- Ace Magashule’s two sons have been cleared of any wrongdoing following an investigation by the SIU into their companies.
- The R3 million in PPE tenders were found to have been above board, but the DA still insists that the involvement of close family members of senior politicians in tenders is unethical.
- The SIU has recommended that the Free State government blacklist 27 of its PPE suppliers.
Suspended ANC secretary-general and former Free State premier Ace Magashule’s two sons, Tshepiso Magashule and Thato Magashule, have been cleared of any wrongdoing by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) following its investigations into the provincial government’s personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement.
Motheko Projects (Pty) Ltd, whose sole director is Tshepiso Magashule, received a Free State provincial treasury contract to supply PPE to the value of R2.9 million.
He eventually pocketed R1 092 500 after supplying surgical masks, and R1 200 000 after providing soap to the province.
Magashule’s other son Thato Magashule’s company Marvel Deeds (Pty) received R427 221 after supplying sanitiser to the provincial government.
A case was referred to the SIU on 5 August 2020 by the Fusion Hub at the Financial Intelligence Centre. The allegations were that the contract had been awarded to the young Magashule because of his father’s close relationship with the MEC for Finance in the Free State, who according to the complainant, centralised the province’s procurement of Covid-19-related goods and services to the Provincial Treasury.
The SIU investigation revealed that the decision to centralise the procurement of PPE for provincial departments was taken by the provincial executive committee (PEC). There was no evidence in support of the allegation that the MEC took the decision, it found.
“No evidence pointing to any irregularities with regards to the awarding of the contracts were found,” reads the report.
Thato Magashule faced similar allegations to those against his brother – that he received the tender as a result of his father being a close ally of the finance MEC.Ace Magashule.Gallo Images Darren Stewart, Gallo Images
The SIU, however, again found that proper evaluation and adjudication processes had been followed before the awarding of the tender, which received approval from the head of the Provincial Treasury.
The investigation also revealed that the provincial executive took the decision to centralise the procurement of PPE for provincial departments, and that there was no evidence in support of the allegation that the MEC had taken the decision, or that any irregularities in the awarding of the contract had occurred.
While the DA in the Free State has accepted that “many instances relating to procurement were not found to be illegal, including the appointment” of the two companies belonging to Magashule’s sons, the party was still worried about politically connected individuals being recipients of government tenders.
DA leader of the provincial legislature Roy Jankielsohn said: “Although the processes for their [Magashule’s sons] appointment were found to be legal, we regard the involvement of close family members of senior politicians in tenders unethical.”
Almost half of the government’s PPE procurements are under investigation, and politically connected children doing business with the state has appeared as a big factor in the probe.
Submissions from the SIU at the Special Tribunal in June last year shed further light on alleged corruption and other transgressions relating to the Department of Health’s R150-million Digital Vibes communications contract. At the heart of this was former health minister Zweli Mkhize’s son, Dedani Mkhize, who allegedly collected boxes of cash from the company’s director.
According to documents filed by the SIU, Dedani Mkhize repeatedly met with Digital Vibes director Radha Hariram at a fuel station in Stanger, KwaZulu-Natal, where he allegedly collected cash directly linked to the department contract.
ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina’s son Mkhonto weSizwe Majodina secured a PPE deal to supply thermometers worth R52 500 to ANC constituency offices in January 2021.
Other politically connected children who have benefited from government deals include former president Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzana Zuma, and Magashule’s daughter Thoko Malembe. The latter allegedly scored R9 million in a dubious property deal with the Free State Development Corporation (FDC).
While the deals between the Free State government and the Magashule sons appeared to be above board, the SIU recommended that 27 PPE suppliers to the provincial government be blacklisted amid allegations of fraud.
Jankielsohn said a prominent supplier of goods and services to the Free State government, C-Squared, had also been named in possible fraud probes of provincial contracts.