South Africans, including government employees, who allegedly embezzled funds meant to facilitate the work of containing the coronavirus pandemic should be probed and prosecuted, President Cyril Ramaphosa has ordered.Addressing the nation Thursday night on government’s strategies to manage the pandemic, Ramaphosa said an investigation unit has been set up to probe all alleged corruption related to Covid-19 funds the government has allocated to various organisations.
“In order to speed up and strengthen the process of dealing with corruption, I have signed a proclamation authorising the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to investigate any unlawful or improper conduct in the procurement of any goods, works and services during or related to the national state of disaster in any state institution,” Ramaphosa said.
In this regard, the SIU and other arms of the state such as the Financial Intelligence Centre, the police crack unit the Hawks, and National Prosecution Authority would work together on the probe, he added.
The president said investigations into the distribution of food parcels, social relief grants, the procurement of personal protective equipment and other medical supplies, and the funds used in the special Covid-19 scheme have already started.
“We are determined that every instance of alleged corruption must be thoroughly investigated, that those responsible for wrongdoing should be prosecuted and that all government monies stolen or overpriced are recovered,” Ramaphosa said.
While no specific figures were cited by the president, it is estimated that millions of dollars were spent to fight the Covid-19 since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country in March 2020.