South Africa’s public protector on Monday said in the last four months they have seen an increase in the number of complaints of conduct and service failure relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane said in the last four months she has received about 450 complaints related to the R350 (about 26 US dollars) special social grant and a number of government tenders.

The government is paying R350 per month for six months to cushion the unemployed people against the effects of the pandemic.

The tenders include those for the Beitbridge Border Post, acquisition of PPE in KZN, a quarantine site in Mpumalanga and a Gauteng ICT deal.

“We have been consistent in our call on the bureaucracy to exercise prudence when it comes to spending public funds on COVID-19 related goods and services,” Mkhwebane said.

“We have stressed that deviation from normal procurement processes is not a declaration of an open season to pillage. We are looking at a few other matters in which we may launch own-initiative investigations,” she added.

Deputy public protector Kholeka Gcaleka said “We have seen various disturbing media reports about worsening conditions at some of these hospitals and this is a grave concern for us.

If there are indeed systemic service delivery issues and acts of improper conduct, maladministration and gross violation of human rights, we’d like to intervene with a view to seeing to it that people get prompt, quality services.”

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