In the fight against COVID-19, the Special Tribunal has put the Gauteng Education Department’s contracts to disinfect schools on hold.
The Gauteng Education Department was found to have misappropriated hundreds of millions of rands for extensive cleaning and sanitization of schools.
How did we end up here? According to reports, the agency paid up to R430 million to 280 businesses in 2020 to deep clean and sanitize schools, district offices, and teaching centers in preparation for the reopening of schools in June of that year.
MEC Panyaza Lesufi said he only found out about the suspected misspending when he was contacted by a journalist. He then asked the department’s HOD to compile a report.
“I think it happened because we were really under pressure to monitor some of the transactions and also check if things were done correctly, but I must indicate that the journalist that was writing this story contacted me and requested information and also alerted me that the authorities were not cooperating, I immediately asked the HOD to compile a report,” he said at the time.
The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) had brought an application to have at least 173 of those contracts set aside and reviewed.
The Special Tribunal has found that 49 of these contracts were invalid and ordered that profits made as a result of the contracts be returned to the department.
“The investigation revealed that the procurement process was not cost-effective, as service providers were not paid per square meter of the area cleaned.
Rather, a senior official in the Gauteng Education appears to have arbitrarily decided to offer a fee of R250 000 to R270000 for the decontamination of primary schools; R250 000 to R290 000 for secondary schools; and R250 000 to R300 000 for district offices. The fees bear no relation to the work done by service providers or the cost of material used”
The Special Tribunal
The report compiled by the Gauteng Education Department HOD found that the disinfection involved 2,207 schools and 38 admin buildings, and the scope before school opening mainly involved deep cleaning.