- The Hawks have launched a fraud investigation against Hamilton Ndlovu.
- The Covid-19 probe zooms in on the supply of water tanks and temporary housing.
- Investigators have referred a number of cases to the National Prosecuting Authority for investigation.
A Special Investigating Unit (SIU) probe has uncovered “serious acts of criminality” involving the National Health Laboratory Service and a “Mr Hamilton Ndlovu”.
The information about Ndlovu is contained in a leaked SIU dossier in which the elite unit’s investigators were updating President Cyril Ramaphosa about the status of a probe into alleged irregularities and possible fraud and corruption in Covid-19 procurement.
Ndlovu shot to prominence during the hard lockdown in May after tweeting a picture of a fleet of ultra-luxury cars which he had apparently just acquired.
Media reports at the time claimed that Ndlovu, chief executive of Hamilton Holdings, had paid R11 million for the cars – three Porsches, a Lamborghini, and a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Ndlovu’s post attracted the attention of SARS, which froze his bank account and seized some of the cars.
The dossier, dated 15 October, shows that a criminal case has now been opened and that the Hawks are investigating a case of fraud.
Neither Ndlovu nor his company or the NHLS have been formally linked to Covid-19 procurement, and it is not clear if the investigation mentioned in the dossier has anything to do with Covid-19 procurement irregularities.
At the time of publication, Ndlovu had not responded to requests for comment. The SIU is already investigating the NHLS in connection with procurement irregularities totalling more than R250 million.
The investigation has been going on since March last year.
In July, Ramaphosa signed a proclamation, giving the SIU sweeping powers and authority to investigate all Covid-19 procurement irregularities across government. The document shows that the SIU had referred 19 cases, involving R96 million, to the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) for criminal investigation.
NPA spokesperson Sipho Ngwema said the SIU did not have powers to investigate fraud and corruption.
“They refer cases with an element of criminality to us and we hand them over to the police, Hawks or any other relevant law enforcement agency. They have been referring Covid-19-related cases,” he said.
Further, the document shows that the SIU had launched several investigations into the provision of water tanks and temporary houses across the country.
When the lockdown was implemented in March, the Department of Water and Sanitation and Human Settlements identified the need for temporary houses to address overcrowding and encourage social distancing in informal settlements.
Equally, for hygienic purposes, the department decided to roll out a project to supply water tanks to informal settlements and communities without access to running water.
In one of the investigations, the document shows, the Department of Education in KwaZulu-Natal allegedly irregularly appointed a service provider, which inflated prices, to deliver water tanks to schools across the province.
The project cost the department R1.1 billion.
Muzi Mahlambi, the department’s spokesperson, referred all queries to the SIU.
Irregular appointments of service providers
The SIU has also fingered Rand Water, the national Department of Education, and other suppliers of irregularities and the inflation of costs for goods and services totalling R220 million.
Amatola Water is also under investigation for the irregular appointment of 36 service providers for the supply and delivery of water tanks totalling R70 million.
In the Eastern Cape, the Department of Human Settlements is under investigation for the irregular appointment of four companies which supplied temporary housing to the value of R31 million.
The department’s spokesperson, Masiza Mazizi, said: “I am aware of the SIU investigation in the department. It is, however, difficult to provide details and progress as the SIU is still investigating in the department currently.”
The SIU alleges that officials in the Nelson Mandela Metro spent R97 million with four companies which had been irregularly appointed to build temporary houses and toilets.
The metro’s spokesperson, Mamela Ndamase, said the council was aware of the investigation and was cooperating with investigators.
“As the municipality, we are aware that there is an investigation [in] this matter. The municipality is cooperating with the law enforcement officers as we are committed to making sure that all suspected corruption is investigated with guilty persons, if any, facing the might of the law.”
Civil servants in Limpopo, the document said, were under investigation for the alleged irregular appointment of a company which supplied temporary housing structures worth R12 million.
The SIU is probing similar allegations in Free State. Officials are alleged to have irregularly appointed and paid R151 million to a company which supplied temporary housing structures. Officials in Limpopo and the Free State could not be reached for comment.
The SIU, the dossier revealed, was weighing its options on how to procced with the controversial R500 million tender to supply tablets and other e-learning equipment to schools across the Eastern Cape.
A month ago the Eastern Cape High Court ordered the local Department of Education not to make payments to the politically connected Sizwe Africa IT Group.
The company, which won the tender in April, is a subsidiary of the Sekunjalo Group, owned by Iqbal Surve.
In May, the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) brought an application to review and set aside Sizwe’s contract. The SITA argued that as the government’s IT arm, the tablets should have been bought through it.
The court ordered the department not to pay Sizwe, pending the judgment in the main application.
The SIU intends to lodge an application to review this contract and the papers are ready.
However, on counsel’s advice, the papers have were held back until the judgment in the SITA matter was received. The judgment has now been received and the team is considering its options, the document states.
The document also showed that, on 3 August, a R36-million payment was made to an account linked to Royal Bhaca, the company owned by Madzikane II Thandisizwe Diko. Diko is married to Khusela Diko, Ramaphosa’s spokesperson.
“Even though the matter received wide media attention, a payment of R38 million was pushed through on 3 August 2020. This had immediate clearance and substantial amounts were moved from the recipient account.”