South Africa News

R34.6 million Cuban drug farce haunts SANDF’s top brass

The bungling in 2020 by the top brass of the cash strapped SA National Defence Force (SANDF) in illegally spending millions to procure Interferon Alpha 2B from Cuba – believed to be an anti-Covid vaccine – has resurfaced to haunt the SANDF.

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise ON Wednesday assured parliament of swift action against those implicated.

Despite being financially in the red, with statistics pointing to a drastic yearly decline in the SANDF funding – a budget cut estimated at R15 billion by last year – it spent R34.6 million to procure and import the unregistered Cuban drug, also known as Heberon.

Pledging to leave no stone unturned regarding the Cuban deal, Modise said she has instructed SANDF chief General Rudzani Maphwanya to act against uniformed members behind the drug’s procurement and importation, which she said had failed to follow the country’s legal processes.

The Ministerial Task Team (MTT), which probed the largescale procurement of the drug, found irregular, wasteful and fruitless expenditure in the department.

The MTT report, compiled by Zolile Ngcakani, Billy Masetlha and Dr Cassius Lubisi recommended that:

v Where officers at various levels of the command structures were, by omission or commission, suspected of violating the Public Financial Management Act and the Medicines and Related Substances Act, they should be asked to account for their actions through boards of inquiry.

Modise is considering referring relevant aspects of the MTT report to the appropriate structures in the SANDF and the department of defence for determining the steps to be taken against any person or group of persons implicated.

Part of the report reads: “Based on findings, it is common cause that two issues remain outstanding in the Interferon saga: payment for the second and third consignments and SA Health Products Regulatory Agency [Sahpra] approval of the drug.

“It is also common cause that three batches of the medication will expire in March, April, and July 2022, respectively.

“The prognosis is that even if Sahpra were to approve use of Interferon in a trial for 8 000 people from 1 November last year, which frankly is unlikely, given there are now effectively five months left before expiry of the first batches, expiry of some Interferon is no longer preventable if the SANDF decides not to accede to Cuba’s request to take back 500 000 vials.”

Modise told members of the portfolio committee on defence: “What is clear is that the MTT found that while we can blame Covid for putting us in the situation we were in and while we can justify the panic and the need for the SANDF to try and secure the force, there were things that should never have been done outside the laws of the country and the processes, especially the financial processes, within the department itself.

“We also want to say that the MTT made clear findings that were supported by other institutions.

“The MTT found that the first consignment was brought in through customs, but brought through a subsidiary of Armscor.

“The second and third consignments were never cleared. Something that has not been cleared simply means that it has been smuggled in and we do take issue with it ourselves,” Modise said.

“We have discussed this matter with the chief of the defence and I have instructed him to implement the decisions.

“We take issue with procurement processes being ignored or being taken advantage of. “The MTT had advised that we return the vials before the expiry of the drugs.”

In other news – AKA allegedly beat up Nadia Nakai – Close source reveals everything that happened at the hotel

Rappers Nadia Nakai and AKA have apparently called it quits. According to a well-placed source, AKA, whose real name is Kiernan Forbes, got into a heated argument with Nadia.

Nadia Nakai and AKA

She recently performed in Ghana along with Moonchild Sanelly and according to the source, they fought at the after-party. “He allegedly assaulted her at the venue in full view of people. Learn More