Gauteng education dept gets legal advisory on SIU recommendation in R431m school sanitisation probe news of 2021


A worker sanitises a classroom at a Johannesburg school.


A worker sanitises a classroom at a Johannesburg school.

  • The Special Investigations Unit is probing the irregular awarding of tenders for school decontamination, which cost Gauteng’s education department R431 million.
  • The department received an independent legal advisory report on how to implement the SIU’s recommendations after it met with the unit. 
  • Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi presented the recommendations of the preliminary report to the  Gauteng provincial legislature’s education portfolio committee.

The Gauteng education department has revealed that it received an independent legal advisory report on how to best implement the Special Investigations Unit’s (SIU) recommendations following a probe into R431 million it spent to decontaminate schools.  

On Monday, the department met with the SIU about its investigation into the money spent.

A report compiled by the head of department and chief financial officer revealed in January that the department had spent R431 million on the decontamination, disinfection, deep cleaning and sanitisation of schools and offices.

According to the report, it cost R270 000 for one primary school, R290 000 for a secondary school, R290 000 for a teachers’ centre, and R390 000 for a district office.

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The report also revealed the contract to sanitise, deep clean and decontaminate the schools were awarded to about 300 companies.

The cheapest contract was R250 000, while the highest was R55 million and awarded to Mapheceka Construction & Projects CC.

Some of the companies awarded contracts worth millions had only been in operation for a few months and didn’t even have websites.

The department said in a statement on Wednesday that Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi was also in consultation with all affected stakeholders with regards to the advisory report.

“It is important to note that, upon conclusion of the ongoing consultation process, the department will, in due course, release an appropriate statement on necessary action taken in implementing the SIU findings accordingly,” said the department. 

Report

Last week the City Press reported that Lesufi made a presentation to the Gauteng provincial legislature’s education portfolio committee where he revealed that he had received a preliminary report on the investigations. 

Lesufi was said to have told the committee that the report recommended disciplinary action against department officials.

READ | ‘Evidence pointing to criminal action’ – SIU says Mkhize can still be charged for Digital Vibes saga

In May, the Special Tribunal granted the SIU an order to freeze the bank accounts and assets, worth R40.7 million, of 14 entities implicated in the irregular awarding of school decontamination tenders in Gauteng. 

In a statement at the time, the SIU described the selection and appointment of suppliers to sanitise schools in the province as haphazard and unfair. It found that of the 280 service providers appointed, 173 were not accredited and were not on the CSD.

A month later, the SIU was granted another order, this time to freeze the bank accounts of seven companies worth R22.4 million.