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SIU report on Covid fraud seems to be only the tip of the iceberg

The report by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), which indicates that there were irregularities with approximately two thirds of the 4 549 finalised cases that have been investigated by the Unit, may possibly be just the tip of the iceberg of extensive fraud.

The SIU investigated 5 467 cases of tenders that were awarded to 3 066 contractors. According to the report, R551,5 million must be recovered. Thus far, only R34,2 million of the funds has been recovered.

These amounts seem almost insignificant in comparison to the amounts estimated to have been lost due to Covid-19 fraud. The SIU told Parliament in October 2020 that fraud relating to the temporary relief scheme, Covid-19 TERS, could already amount to approximately R985 million.

In 2020 when President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that R500 billion would be used as emergency aid during the pandemic, he was asked what precautionary measures he would put in place to prevent corruption.

At the time, he undertook to take the necessary steps and, among other things, instructed the Auditor-General (AG) to put mechanisms in place that would prevent irregularities.

The SIU's report, however, makes it very clear that either President Ramaphosa did not keep his word or the AG did not execute his instruction properly.

It is widely suspected that fraud amounting to billions of rand was committed with the funds and the SIU's current estimations are, therefore, not convincing.

This certainly does not instil confidence in the public and drastic action must be taken to have the matter investigated much more thoroughly.

Offenders must be dealt with in the strictest possible way by imposing severe punishments on them to demonstrate that corruption will not be tolerated.

If this does not happen, it will prove that President Ramaphosa is only paying lip service to the people of South Africa and that the ANC is continuing to allow its cadres to enrich themselves at the expense of taxpayers.

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