No conflict of interest identified yet on awarded PPE contracts, says Lamola

Ronald Lamola Minister of Justice and Correctional Services can be seen at GCIS during a press briefing , 16 December 2019, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Lamola said government was also equipping existing law enforcement agencies with resources that will enable them to investigate corruption properly.

Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola says Cabinet has welcomed the announcement that at least 36 corruption-related cases are at various stages of investigation and prosecution.

Briefing the media on the outcomes of the Cabinet meeting held on Wednesday said government had, however, not yet identified any conflict of interest from those who were awarded contracts to supply personal protective equipment (PPE).

He says: “We have not yet identified conflict of interest on PPE contracts. All government departments will publish the list of those who received contracts. If there is any allegation against the recipients of the contracts, the law enforcement agencies will investigate to clear any doubts. After the list has been published, members of the public will be welcome to play their role and observe any conflict of interest. We don’t have any that we are aware of.”

Also read: 36 Covid-19 related corruption cases being investigated – Ramaphosa

Lamola says government is doing everything in its power to ensure all those found to have been involved in corruption to be brought to book. This includes the establishment of a Fusion centre – a multi-agency unit- which consists of different law enforcement agencies and will investigate Covid-19 corruption.

“It [the Fusion centre] must grow organically. We’re looking at legislation to ensure the centre has a home, and acts independently without fear or favour, and no interference. Discussion is ongoing. We want to house it with legislation that will ensure it works smoothly,” he said.

“If you check now, the NPA has recently advertised about 100 posts, government is equipping law enforcement agencies to ensure they do their jobs with resources.”

Also read: All PPE contracts will be made public – Mboweni

The inter-ministerial committee appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa will help the Fusion centre in its investigations. The appointed MPs, including Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Senzo Mcunu, Bheki Cele will just help out with information, says Lamola.

This will be followed by lifestyle audits of MPs once it has been actioned by the department of public service and administration.

On gender-based violence, Lamola said the department of justice and constitutional development has reviewed certain laws and developed Bills that seek to improve the response of the criminal justice system to violence.

Cabinet has approved the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill that seeks to give South African Police Service officers discretion to arrest without a warrant of arrest in certain circumstances, and also permits them to enter a private property using force to obtain evidence, detect, and question the alleged abuser.

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill has also been published for comment that will expand the scope of the national Register for Sex Offenders to include information on all sex offenders instead of the current Bill that only focuses on offenders against children and persons who are mentally disabled.

“In terms of the Criminal Law Amendment Bill, an offender whose particulars are recorded in the National Register for Sex Offenders may not work, or occupy positions that place them in contact, with children or persons who are mentally disabled,” said Lamola.

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