NATIONAL NEWS - President Cyril Ramaphosa says government is looking at establishing additional Special Commercial Crimes Courts in several cities, given the rise in commercial crimes and COVID-19 procurement corruption.
The President said this when he responded to oral questions in the National Council of Provinces on Tuesday.
“The rise in serious commercial crimes and incidents of COVID-19 procurement corruption have meant that we are fast-tracking the establishment of additional Special Commercial Crimes Courts, and increasing capacity of existing ones,” he said.
He said this after a SA Revenue Service COVID-19 project team conducted an investigation that has laid bare incidents of tax evasion in relation to COVID-19 procurement.
As at end of September 2020, there were 307 cases, with an estimated tax revenue loss of R300 million.
There are 139 companies referred for potential tax evasion investigation.
“We are looking to establish additional Special Commercial Crimes Courts in Polokwane, Mbombela, Mahikeng, Mthatha and Mangaung.
“A lot of work is happening to ensure that we handle all these COVID-related cases,” the President said.
Government, he said, has responded swiftly and decisively to allegations of corruption in the award of COVID-19 related contracts.
Measures taken includes the establishment of a fusion centre, which brings together nine law enforcement agencies to share information and resources, and ensure a coordinated response.
“On 23 July 2020, I issued a proclamation to the Special Investigating Unit to investigate COVID-19 related maladministration and unlawful conduct in any State institution during the national state of disaster.
“The SIU is currently looking into 932 matters under the issued proclamation, and all these matters are at different stages of investigation.
“The SIU has, to date, provided me with two interim reports, which outline progress in the investigations, including where investigations have been finalised.
"The reports of SIU investigations will be made public once all the necessary process have been completed and there is no risk of jeopardising ongoing investigations,” said President Ramaphosa. – SAnews.gov.za