The Potchefstroom Chamber of Commerce’s reaction to the release of the Final Report on procurement by State Institutions during or in respect of the National State of Disaster by the Special Investigations Unit

The Potchefstroom Chamber of Commerce (“The Chamber”) has today, together with our fellow South Africans, taken cognisance of the release of the abovementioned report. We wish to congratulate the Special Investigations Unit (“SIU”) on the comprehensive nature of this report and their diligence and dedication in pursuing the objective given to them by the President of South Africa. It is our fervent wish that this report will lead to the prosecution of parties who have put their own well-being above this of others during one of the darkest periods that our beautiful country has ever faced. We are saddened that our local municipality has also been implicated in these detestable actions.

However, we have noted with extreme concern that the findings in the report regarding a donation of R1.2 million, of which the Chamber was a custodian for a period, are blatantly inaccurate and unsubstantiated. This information referred to can be found on pages 686 – 688 of the report. The Chamber wishes to correct this information immediately.

The background to the receipt of the donation is as follows:

During the level 5 lockdown period in April and May 2020, The Chamber was part of a multi-organisational body called the JB Marks Disaster Relief Committee chaired by JB Marks Municipality officials. The committee’s main objective was to relieve the distress caused by the national lockdown on the citizens of the JB Marks municipal area.

This committee instantly recognised the dire need for hunger relief during the lockdown period and solicited the general public and the Mayor of the JB Marks Municipality to contribute funds towards the Disaster Relief initiative. These donations were received into a dedicated bank account of The Chamber, who acted as custodian of these funds.

All such funds were utilised for the payment of one supplier of fortified porridge, who was approved by the whole JB Marks Disaster Relief Committee.

On 16 April 2020, the committee received a donation of R1.2 million from the JB Marks Municipality Mayoral office for the purposes described above.

The Chamber wishes to place on record the following as a correction of the information contained in the report:

No contract for “catering for homeless people” was ever awarded to the Potchefstroom Chamber of Commerce (or its predecessor in title – the Potch-Tlokwe Chamber of Commerce as indicated in the report).
The Chamber cannot comment on the regularity or validity of the payment in terms of the MFMA as it was not privy to the processes executed by the office of the Mayor before the funds were dispatched.
The Chamber has given its full cooperation during the investigation by the SUI. We have provided both the Mayoral office and the SUI with a myriad of supporting documents tracing all funds from receipt of funds to the procurement of porridge and the thousands of signatures on hundreds of pages made by indigent families which received this porridge. This was done to the admitted satisfaction of the Mayoral office and the SIU.
The Chamber is astonished that the report indicates that the SIU has appointed counsel to set aside the alleged contract granted as The Chamber is in possession of official documentation from the SIU dated 18 October 2021 that all action against The Chamber had been withdrawn.

The Chamber is currently drafting a communication to both the SIU and The Presidency demanding that the report be corrected with the facts supplied to the SIU, conveying that we are extremely concerned that the report contains such blatant misinformation.

If any member of the public has any questions regarding the report or The Chamber’s actions, they are welcome to contact the chairman of The Potchefstroom Chamber of Commerce on 084 506 3706.

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