A Department of Defence (DoD) presentation has revealed over 90 ongoing cases of corruption and fraud amounting to roughly R1.19 billion across all divisions of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).
The virtual DoD presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) on 25 August lists on-going corruption and fraud (C&F) cases, some dating back as far as 1998, although most of the cases are in the last decade.
C&F cases are handled by the Inspectorate Division, Military Police, Legal Services, Defence Intelligence and the Finance Division. According to the presentation, out of the 447 cases that have been received or opened, 40 have been finalised, 48 are in military court, 16 in commercial court, five in civilian court and 354 cases are still under investigation. There have been 14 convictions in 2021, ranging from minor fines to dismissal from the SANDF.
There are 93 high profile (above R100 000) cases. The presentation did not give much information on these cases, but it did detail the division the case concerns and the amount involved. The most corrupt and fraudulent division by a significant margin is the SA Army, with 60 high profile cases. In comparison to the other divisions, the second highest number of high profile C&F cases lies within the South African Military Health Service (SAMHS), with six cases.
Going by amounts under investigation, the Logistic Division is by and large the most corrupt and fraudulent: an irregular contract was awarded to a company last year for “COVID-19 related equipment” (possibly PPE) amounting to R400 million. In another case concerning the Logistics Division in the 2019/2020 financial year, a supplier was awarded work for R239 million through the “life capability project” (possibly Project Thusano). The report of the case has been submitted to the Chief of the SANDF, General Rudzani Maphwanya, and Secretary for Defence Gladys Kudjoe for a decision.
The third largest is a fraud case is against the SA Army. In the 2017/2018 financial year, R120 million was used to purchase 20 000 software licenses but only 15 000 were delivered. The Military Police are awaiting feedback from the Special Investigating Unit on the outcome of the investigation.
In one of five high profile C&F cases against the SA Navy, a tender for R52 million was awarded to a private contractor for maintenance and repair of operational mechanical equipment and cleaning and repair of bulk storage tanks in the 2013/2014 financial year. The case is at the commercial court in Bellville awaiting decision.
In one of five high profile C&F cases against the SA Air Force, R34 million is under investigation in a fraud case. The case concerns a company that is not approved by the Tender Board but was however awarded a tender for X-ray machines and scanners.
According to the presentation, well over half of the high-profile C&F cases were opened in the past five years, possibly indicating the DoD is going through its worst spell of C&F since its inception in 1994. The Military Police are still investigating some cases that are now 13 years old. One case still under investigation, a fraud case in the SA Army for orders and salaries claimed for days not worked, dates back to 1998.
Kudjoe said one of the reasons for cases taking so long to reach finalisation and the backlog of cases is due to the lack of capacity of the Inspector General and Military Police. The court system and defendants using the court system to buy more time is another reason cases are taking so long. In the next meeting, the DoD says it will give more information on these cases and present the reasons for many of the cases taking five years and more to reach a verdict.
The presentation was lambasted by members of the PCDMV for being hard to follow, lacking critical information and leaving more questions than answers. The presentation was riddled with spelling and numerical errors. The presenter from the DoD was not speaking in conjuncture with his slides and could not provide answers to basic questions of importance to the PCDMV.