Forty percent of illegally acquired Cuban COVID-19 drug reportedly unusable


The senior command structure of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) responded – after a reminder – to the Public Protector for information on the apparent illegal acquisition of an unregistered Cuban drug to treat COVID-19, one of three ongoing Interferon investigations.

The others are a three-man task team appointed by Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and a police investigation on the strength of a statement made by Kobus Marais, Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow minister for her portfolio.

He told defenceWeb, in the wake of correspondence with the Public Protector investigator, it appears the Chapter Nine institution is not satisfied with the SANDF.

“The impression one is left with is the command cadre of the national defence force is trying to frustrate – rather than assist – the investigation,” he said, adding Auditor-General reports indicated “at least 40% of the (Cuban) medicine was handled outside the prescribed temperature range”.

“This makes it unusable and it has to be destroyed. A waste of millions – money the Department of Defence (DoD) and SANDF should have used for essential expenses.”

Mapisa-Nqakula went to the wider South African intelligence community in search of members for her task team to look deeper into the ins and outs of the R260 million acquisition of Heberon from Cuba. The team, given six months to complete its task and report to her is headed by former Intelligence director general Zola Ngcakani. Assisting him are former director general in The Presidency Cassius Lubisi and former National Intelligence Agency (NIA) director general Billy Masethla.

Asked about task team progress the DoD head of communication said: “It is a work in progress and until the work is finished there is nothing to say”. This was in response to a defenceWeb inquiry asking if the task team was relying solely on interviews, an indication of who had and will be interviewed and whether the task team had visited or plans to visit Cuba.