KZN Zikalala

KZN Premier Premier Sihle Zikalala / Image via Twitter: Premier Sihle Zikalala

Almost R30 million irregular COVID-19 PPE payments uncovered in KZN

Zikalala says the implicated officials risked being blacklisted by the government.

KZN Zikalala

KZN Premier Premier Sihle Zikalala / Image via Twitter: Premier Sihle Zikalala

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has unmasked a litany  of irregularities in the procurement of the COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and blankets amounting to nearly R30 million. 

The investigations, launched in April were multipronged, one focused on the PPEs, while the other probed the irregular procurement of blankets. The departments of social development and education were the focal points of the investigation. 

Zikalala presented the outcome of the investigations on Tuesday 21 July. It became evidently clear from his presentations that some officials had suffocated the procurement of PPEs and blankets which were aimed at protecting citizens from COVID-19.


He said the investigation laid bare significant irregularities which were caused by “inadequate and ineffective systems of internal controls” in the department of social department. 

Zikalala said the irregularities included the purchase orders for PPE which were issued to 11 service providers before the accounting officer approved.

“In some instances quotations were changed three times and on each occasion the quantities of the items were reduced in order to reduce the total cost of procurement. However, most noticeably there was no reduction of the pricing per unit.”

said Zikalala.


Consequently, the investigation concluded that all payments made to the service providers for PPEs were irregular to the tune of R13. 6 million. 

Had the department applied the regulated prizes, Zikalala said the government would have saved at least R2 million, said Zikalala.

Some service providers were paid in full on 4 of May 2020, while the goods were delivered on the 11th of May 2020, the investigators found. 

Zikalala said it was “anomaly” to pay for services not rendered but effected payment in advance. 


The investigators, Zikalala said, recommended that disciplinary action be taken against the chief financial officer, acting supply chain manager and officials, cluster chief directors. 

Their offence, Zikalala said was:

“Contravening duties in terms of section 45 read with section 81 and 88 of the PFMA Act of 1999  on charges of misconduct in terms of Chapter 7 read with Contravention of various SCM prescripts which financially prejudiced the (Social) Department.” 

He said it was clear from the report that there was abuse of Covid-19 emergency procurement provisions. 


Like on PPEs, Zikalala said the procurement of blankets was riddled with irregularities. As a result, the  government lost just  over close to R16 million.

“The investigation further established that the supplier misrepresented the specifications of the blankets and that most blankets supplied were not in accordance with the specifications of 220x24cm in size.  The approximate financial loss to the department as a result of the misrepresentations amount to R15 808 000,”

said Zikalala. 

The report suggested that action be taken against the Acting Accounting Officer at the time:

  • The investigation is therefore recommending that disciplinary action be taken against the Acting Accounting Officer at the time for the following acts or omissions;
  • Contravening duties in terms of section 38(1) (a) read with sections 81 and 88 of the PFMA ACT No. 1 of 1999.
  • Signing of flawed submissions on the 25 March 2020 for the procurement of blankets
  • Failing to ensure the needs analysis and end user analysis was conducted prior to the signing of procurement submission and;
  • For abuse of the Covid-19 emergency procurement provisions.

Zikalala said the investigators found that service providers failed to supply and deliver blankets according to the specifications and misrepresented the quality and specifications of the blankets that were eventually delivered in most instances. Heads were going to roll, Zikalala vowed. 


“The investigators have recommended that, in addition to the disciplinary procedures, in some areas, cases be opened with the SAPS on collusion and corruption between officials and service providers,”

said Zikalala.

“We are very concerned about the prima facie evidence of collusion between officials and suppliers, however, as the report recommends this warrant an investigation by the SAPS – and this will have to be actioned as such,”

added Zikalala.

The investigators found no wrongdoing in the department of education.

He said the report will be processed in line with the recommendations, and there will be consequence management.