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Former employee used proximity to ex-MEC to defraud Eastern Cape health dept of R23m, court finds

A former Eastern Cape health department employee was sentenced to 10 years in prison for fraud amounting to R23.7 million.

A former Eastern Cape health department employee was sentenced to 10 years in prison for fraud amounting to R23.7 million.

PHOTO: Tetra Images, Getty Images

  • A former health department employee was sentenced to 10 years for defrauding the Eastern Cape health department.
  • Ayanda Matinise defrauded the department of R23.7 million through a personal protection equipment tender.
  • The court found that he had abused his proximity to former MEC Sindiswa Gomba to defraud the department.

A former Eastern Cape health department employee has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for personal protective equipment (PPE) tender fraud to the tune of R23.7 million.

Ayanda Matinise, 37, was sentenced in the Mthatha Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Tuesday.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Luxolo Tyali said the fraud was committed between 9 and 17 September 2020 – a time when the country was in the midst of a state of disaster due to Covid-19.

The court found that Matinise used his proximity to the office of former health MEC Sindiswa Gomba to commit the fraud.

He wrote, signed, and sent a forged letter to Falaz Protection Services (PTY) Ltd, in which he falsely claimed that the department had committed to the procurement of 700 000 KN95 surgical masks, Tyali said.

READ | Axed E Cape Health MEC’s former messenger in court over forged signature linked to R23m PPE tender

“Consequently, Falaz submitted the quotation and a declaration of interest to Matinise, accompanied by a quotation valued at R23.7 million. Upon the authorisation of such supply and delivery through the forged commitment letter, delivery of a consignment of PPEs was made by Falaz at the department’s OR Tambo District stores in Mthatha,” Tyali said.

Tyali continued: 

When the Falaz director demanded payment for services rendered and even paid Matinise R3 000 to expedite the payment, it became apparent that the officials responsible for payment and issuing of commitment letters at the department did not know [about] the forged commitment letter.

The company decided to collect the consignment, but large quantities of it were missing, Tyali said.

“Investigations conducted by the Special [Investigating] Unit (SIU) and the Hawks led to the arrest of Matinise.”

He pleaded not guilty, downplayed his role to that of a mere messenger and attempted to implicate the officials who had blown the whistle in large-scale corruption.

READ | Eastern Cape health MEC’s ‘core staffer’ arrested for transporting alcohol in govt car

“However, under cross-examination by the State, Matinise contradicted himself and changed his version at least three times. The court rejected his defence. The prosecution pleaded for the imposition of the prescribed minimum sentence of 15 years for fraud amounting to more than R500 000.

“The court found that compelling and exceptional circumstances existed, justifying a deviation,” Tyali said.

Eastern Cape Director of Public Prosecutions Barry Madolo commended the prosecuting team, SIU investigators, and the Hawks for securing the conviction and sentence.

Gomba and several other politicians and former civil servants in the province are accused of fraud and money laundering charges.

The case relates to R10 million the Buffalo City Metro paid for the funeral and memorial service of late former president Nelson Mandela in December 2013. 

Gomba also made headlines when her department awarded a R10 million contract to a company to manufacture medical scooters.

The contract was set aside after the SIU’s intervention.

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