EL man, dead for two years, wins R1m PPE tender

Mdu Mdikane, of Associates Logistics JV, is shocked that his name is among those who have benefited from the billion rand put aside for the province in a fight against Covid-19.
Image: MICHAEL PINYANA

He has been dead for two years, and yet an East London businessman scored a personal protective equipment tender worth almost R1m from the Eastern Cape health department.

Odwa KK Matshaya’s family was stunned by the appearance of the dead man’s company on a list of more than 600 firms to have benefited from the department’s R1.2bn Covid-19 procurement expenditure in the past three months.

At the time of his death,  Matshaya was the sole director of 2KS Construction and Projects.

According to the list, 2KS Construction and Projects received R992,105.

Other Eastern Cape businessmen have also come forward to disclose that while their companies’ names appear on the list of beneficiaries, they were never awarded contracts by the health department.

The presence of these companies on the list raises further questions about the procurement of PPE and other Covid-related services by the provincial government.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) told parliament’s standing committee on public accounts this week that it was investigating 352 recently awarded contracts in the Eastern Cape.

Matshaya’s relative, who asked to remain anonymous as he works for a government entity, confirmed both his death and the presence of 2KS Construction and Projects on the list.

“KK died two years ago and was the owner and sole director of this company. This came as a shock to us but the family does not want to talk more about this. This is not good at all — this is rot. Who did this and for what good reason?” the man asked.

A health department insider told the Dispatch the ratification of companies which did not receive tenders was the “tip of the iceberg”, as there were other “ghosts companies” that had benefited.

“If you dig more, you will find there are ghost companies that got paid millions of rand. Get their account numbers — you will be shocked by who benefited. There are companies that were given appointment letters but no work was given to them, yet their names appear on the provincial list as companies that were awarded work,” said the official.

The Dispatch has discovered that on the provincial list, 17 different companies were awarded work worth R1.560m. Another eight companies each received R1.576m.

The official said there was no way that so many companies would receive awards for the same monetary amount.

“If you look at this document (list), that’s exactly what happened. Some companies got paid round figures like R16m. How did that calculation come about … this needs law enforcement agencies.”

Other businessmen the Dispatch spoke to said though they had been asked to provide quotes for the supply of PPE, they had never received any work.

Mdu Madikane, of Associates Logistics JV, said according to the list his company had been paid R1.130m, yet that was not true at all.

“I only got an appointment letter to supply and deliver health care respirator masks to the health department. I never received an award letter. The next thing my name appears as one of the companies that got the work,” said Madikane.

Madikane is convinced the situation is the “work of a syndicate within the provincial government”.

“This is corruption that is being committed by a syndicate. This need to be exposed,” Madikane said.

Madikane said he first responded to an invitation from the health department to tender for a tents and VIP toilets contract.

Madikane said he later made a bid to supply a million surgical disposable masks.

He then responded to a call to supply of N95 and or KN95 masks.

“This was submitted through a joint venture and on this one we did receive a letter of appointment, but no purchase order has been received up to date,” he said.

Madikane said the department came back to his office to request pictures and specifications of the products and to confirm that stock was available for gowns as well.

“That gave me hope that at least I got the work. But what was to follow shocked me. I did not receive any work. Instead I got a call from people to say my name appeared on the list of those who had benefited.”

Mawethu Tobela said his company, whose name he asked the Dispatch not to mention for business reasons,  received more than R11m worth of work, according to the list, yet he has not seen one cent.

“I submitted quotes like any other company and had hoped to get work, but nothing. Yet my name is on the list. This is so glaring, and it is fraud,” said Tobela.

The SIU told the portfolio committee the contracts in the health department were valued at R622.4m. However, the list gives a figure R628.9m.

Health spokesperson Judy Ngoloyi confirmed that they have received a number of queries from a number of contractors who complained.

“We have received some queries since the publication of the PPE supplier lists. We have responded to all of them comprehensively. What will also help in this case is to have the names of the companies so we can pull CSD records, bid documents and other relevant pieces. This will help in providing a response that is comprehensive and appropriately,” she said.

By Bongani Fuzile

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