Hartbeespoort businessman says he is unfairly implicated in alleged PEE tender fraud investigation

Lleka Putuka

Hartbeespoort businessman, Lleka Putuka, denied any irregularities with the procurement of Covid-19 personal protection equipment (PPE) for the police last year and said that his company, along with three others, are unfairly involved in a battle between senior police officials who are being investigated by the Hawks and the Special Investigating Unit. (SIU)

The Hawks announced in August 2020 that Lleka’s company, Before Sunset Group, located in Schoemansville, is one of four companies being investigated for alleged corruption. Before Sunset was awarded a R60 million tender to supply masks to the police.

Daily Maverick reported on Sunday that two senior police officers tasked by the Police Commissioner to investigate and suspend Crime Intelligence head Peter Jacobs, on charges of alleged personal protective equipment (PPE) tender irregularities, are themselves the subjects of a Hawks investigation into an alleged R200-million police PPE tender spree.

According to Daily Maverick, Lieutenant-General Francinah Vuma, Divisional Commissioner: Financial Management and Administration, as well as Major General Johannes Riet, acting and later Divisional Commissioner: Supply Chain of SAPS, were both in command when the deals went down between 29 March and 3 April 2020, days after the announcement of a national Level 5 lockdown.

It also said Before Sunset was one of four companies that do not appear to be on the police’s suppliers database and that none of the companies listed a VAT number on the invoices.

“According to me there was nothing wrong with the contract,” Putuka told Kormorant. “The latest report by Daily Maverick is just recycling of news. It is about a battle of top cops and we are unfairly involved in this. I have already written to the newspaper demanding a retraction, as the facts concerning me are not correct. The newspaper published payment amounts that were incorrect and alleged that I was a broker and not a supplier. This report is misleading the public and can do irreparable damage to my company. I am a supplier, not a broker. Regarding the accusation that I am not on the police database of suppliers, it must be clarified that at the time of the tender, shortly after the start of the pandemic, the only requirements for PPE suppliers were to be registered with Treasury and to have an essential service provider certificate. The relevant authorities must sit and resolve this. If you are paid for a service and you deliver, there is nothing illegal or fraudulent about it. And what is their interest in how I source my PPEs?” he told Kormorant,

Putuka’s house was raided by the Hawks in May 2020. “They informed me that it was an enquiry. They had a search warrant and confiscated my cellphone and laptops,” he told Kormorant. “I was told that following the investigation, they will decide if I will be charged.” Putuka’s cellphone and laptops were later returned to him.

Daily Maverick reports that the allegedly inflated tenders are now being investigated by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), known as the Hawks, as well as the Special Investigative Unit (SIU), which are both part of the intergovernmental anti-corruption “Fusion Centre” set up in August 2020 by President Cyril Ramaphosa. The multidisciplinary unit comprises SARS, the SIU, the Hawks and the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC).