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Firms implicated in R431m school sanitising tender scandal point fingers at GDE!

A Special Tribunal is on Wednesday hearing virtual arguments from firms who rendered a service to several schools at inflated prices, some of which charged 27 times the going rate.

Legal teams representing companies hired to “sanitise and disinfect schools” in Gauteng during the COVID-19 pandemic have argued they had done nothing wrong and pointed fingers at the provincial education department for the scandal.

A Special Tribunal is on Wednesday hearing virtual arguments from firms who rendered a service to several schools at inflated prices, some of which charged 27 times the going rate.

The Special Investigating Unit has found that the department awarded R431 million in irregular tenders to companies that were never accredited to do the work.

It wants those tenders declared invalid and unlawful and is also trying to recover the money.

Under pressure to re-open schools in the middle of a pandemic, the service providers said that there was nothing sinister about how they went about securing these exorbitant contracts with the Gauteng Education Department.

John Peter representing some of the service providers at this Tribunal said that his clients were never asked for a quote on how much government should pay them. He claimed that the department set these prices.

“I normally get briefed by the State attorney and I normally get told that what my rate is, is not what I normally charge and I must accept or decline the brief. There’s no negotiations there,” he said.

The SIU has argued that the companies should not have ripped the state off and suggested that they should have offered to better the price.