NATIONAL NEWS - "The lawyers have to negotiate on their availability,’ says Kganyago.
The civil case against 40 companies – which are accused of corruption involving personal protective equipment meant to deal with the spread of Covid-19 in Gauteng – has been postponed to next month.
This emerged during a sitting by the Special Tribunal of South Africa at the High Court in Johannesburg. The companies were asking for dates for the matter to resume in late November to ensure the availability of their legal teams, according to tribunal spokesperson Selby Makgotho.
“We agreed on Friday and Saturday, the 20th and 21st of November, because the judges raised concerns that some parties had yet to file vital court documents,” said Makgotho.
“Secondly, they expressed the desire for the matter to be postponed because some of the lawyers were indicating they were not available, hence we compromised to do it on a Friday and Saturday.”
The deadline for all heads of arguments to be submitted was set for 4 November.
Special Investigating Unit (SIU) spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said the civil case to extend the interim order to freeze the bank accounts of the 40 companies was to assist in their investigation.
“Remember, we asked for an order because we are following the money trail. Money which was channelled through various bank accounts. We asked for an interim order which was granted, but now we are seeking to make the order final,” said Kganyago.
According to Makgotho, the interim order was extended to 20 and 21 November.
Judge Billy Mothle granted an interim order to freeze the bank accounts, interdicting the Gauteng department of health from making further payments to Ledla Structural Development and 39 other companies.
Papers before the tribunal state that the company was awarded a contract by the department for the supply of Covid-19 items, which the SIU contended, was unlawfully, irregularly and corruptly awarded, and at prices which were grossly inflated.
The last order also interdicted the Government Employee Pension Fund from releasing the pension money and benefits to the former departmental chief financial officer Kabelo Lehloenya, pending the institution of a civil suit against him by the SIU.
Lehloenya, who was cited as one of the respondents, has since resigned from the public service. The special tribunal held that the bid for recovery proceedings against Lehloenya be instituted within 15 days of the granting of the order.