Misuse of Covid-19 funds in South Africa 'frightening',says auditor general

A damning report into the use of South Africa's Covid-19 relief fund has revealed overpricing and potential fraud, the auditor general says.

Kimi Makwetu released the first special report on the financial management of government's Covid-19 initiatives on Wednesday and said it uncovered "frightening findings".

The audit focuses on the management of R147,4 billion of the funds made available for government initiatives.

The report also has flagged up 30,000 relief grants which "require further investigation".

"We are concerned about the indicators of high risk of fraud and abuse we observed – not only in the areas that we were able to audit, but also where information for auditing was not forthcoming, which could be a deliberate tactic to frustrate our audit efforts," said Makwetu.

The allocated funds were meant to assist vulnerable households with food parcels, unemployment grants, support small business, farmers and to also procure personal protective equipment.

The report also highlighted the inadequacy of the information technology systems used to disburse funds.

In May, South Africa introduced social relief of distress grants of 350 rand per month for people who are unemployed.

Out of four million people in the database Makwetu said the around 30,000 beneficiaries require "further investigation".

He also said there was a need for the area of procurement of PPE to be "scrutinised" as "there are instances of the price being 200% and, in some cases, fives times more than the price the national treasury had advised.