South Africa News

A retired SANDF major-general spills the Tea on the South African National Defence Force

A retired SANDF major-general has claimed in a dossier sent to the Zondo Commission that the army had “fraudulently” and “questionably” awarded a litany of contracts worth millions of rand.

Sunday Independent can today reveal that Major-General Sandile Sizani has officially asked the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture to investigate tender corruption, fraud, and irregularities within the SANDF, alleging that the institution was “rotten to the core”.

Sizani retired from the SANDF in November 2018 but officially left the force in early 2019 after being asked to extend his stay by a few months.

The contracts flagged by Sizani’s dossier, which has been seen by the Sunday Independent, included the one awarded to a company called UNHU IT Solutions.

The Department of Defence and Military Veterans awarded UNHU IT Solution a R79m contract for the provision of an analytical tool in 2009.

However, a forensic investigation conducted by audit firm Deloitte and Touche in 2014 after Sizani blew the whistle on the contract found that the “SANDF has not received value for money” from the deal.

This was after Sizani stopped further payments to UNHU, which had already pocketed R45m, arguing that there was no justification for the fees.

SANDF medical teams

In his dossier, Sizani stated that the Deloitte investigation also established that the company had charged the SANDF R3.8-million for a Gift Management System that was donated by a Wits University IT student.

Sizani, in his submission to the Zondo Commission, claimed that his suspicions of the UNHU contract arose when he started asking his seniors about the company which had allegedly submitted monthly invoices with “no plans on deliverables and time-lines.”

“It appeared to me that we were simply pumping millions into this company, yet the company was not delivering,” Sizani said in his submission, adding that he wanted to be called to testify before the commission about all the questionable contracts.

“My team of investigators uncovered a whole lot of corruption relating to the whole project and how this company was even paid for what was a donation to Defence Intelligence by someone from Wits. Even though the former student developed this gift register and gave it to the Defence Intelligence for free, UNHU IT Solutions charged Defence Intelligence R4 million.

In addition, Sizani claimed that he stopped further payments to the company after his superiors failed to give him any convincing explanations.

While the company was appointed in 2009, the parties entered into a Master Services Agreement only on September 16, 2010.

Yesterday, Sizani confirmed that he submitted a dossier to the Zondo Commission.

“The SANDF is rotten to the core, and I want to go to the commission and expose the rot,” he said.

Siphiwe Dlamini, the spokesperson for the Department of Defence, yesterday urged anyone with proof of corruption within the SANDF to approach the law enforcement agencies.

“The Department of Defence (DOD) has noted with concern serious allegations of misconduct and corruption levelled at senior DOD members in the public domain.

“The DOD urges members who have information regarding allegations of corruption and criminality committed in the DOD to approach any law enforcement agency in the country and report these alleged incidents of crime and corruption to the agencies to ensure the necessary investigations can take place.

“The DOD is not in a position to comment on matters that are said to be presented to the Zondo Commission as the commission must be able to conduct its hearings and release its ultimate findings according to its own processes as prescribed by law,” Dlamini said.

UNHU IT Solutions chief executive officer, Hunadi Phaiphai, on Saturday refused to comment on the matter including the damning findings made by Deloitte.

“This matter is under investigation by the Hawks. UNHU IT Solutions is still awaiting the outcome,” she said.

Zizani’s dossier added that “the gift register was written by someone from Wits, who gave consent for it being used elsewhere, and it was offered to the SANDF for free.”

The former Wits University student at the centre of the donation, who asked not to be named, confirmed that he donated the gift register to Defence Intelligence. He said he was surprised when he discovered that UNHU had charged SANDF for it.

The student said he could not pursue the matter any further after getting death threats for raising it.

Sizani further claimed in his submission to Zondo that after Deloitte submitted its forensic report, he approached the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation, also known as the Hawks, and opened a criminal case at Pretoria Central Police Station.

“We gave them (Hawks) the whole completed investigation report as well as the audit report, and it was a matter of them finalising the whole investigation and arresting the culprit.”

Sizani alleged that nothing happened, adding that he subsequently “totally lost respect for that institution known as the Hawks.”

Hawks spokesperson, Colonel Katlego Mokgale, on Saturday said she was unable to comment on the matter as she was battling to get hold of relevant people who were handling the case.

“I am battling to get information on who received the documents and what happened to the investigation,” she said.

Sizani added that he started getting death threats and the cold shoulder from some of his seniors after opening criminal charges.

One of the SANDF officials with intimate knowledge of the case, who can’t be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media, added: “Sizani tried everything in his powers to stop corruption in the SANDF, but instead, he was forced to early retirement. At some stage, they even tried to assassinate him.”

Sizani confirmed that there was an attempt on his life in February 2017. He said he was followed by a car with four occupants at Sunnyside in Pretoria.

When he parked, the occupants fired several shots at him. “I only survived because I retaliated, I am a trained soldier, and the guys jumped into their car and ran away. I fired about 10 bullets from my gun.”

Sizani claims that he was surprised when he returned to the crime scene the following morning only to find that all the spent cartridges had been collected.

The retired general’s submission to the Zondo Commission comes as the SANDF is embroiled in another scandal involving R200 million that was allegedly spent on a Covid-19 drug that can’t be used.

According to media reports, the SANDF paid R35 million for 130 000 doses of Interferon-Alpha-2B drug and was expected to make a further payment of R182 million. Interferon Alfa-2B is an antiviral or antineoplastic drug. The allegations are contained in a confidential internal report made by Major-General Lesley Ford, who is the chief director for military health service support.

Zondo Commission spokesperson, Reverend Mbuyiselo Stemela, could not be reached for comment. However, the Sunday Independent has seen a series of email exchanges between Sizani and the Zondo Commission about his submission.

In the last message sent on September 9, the commission informed the retired general that his submission had been “escalated” and thanked him for his patience.

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Source: IOL