The SA Bureau of Standards is investigating allegations that its processes were abused in order to approve the use of coal from Gupta-linked mines‚ a parliamentary committee has revealed.
Joanmariae Fubbs‚ chairperson of the portfolio committee on trade and industry‚ said the issue was first raised during the parliamentary inquiry into state capture at Eskom. During the hearings it emerged that the Tegeta mine contract was suspended after it was discovered that 50% of its coal was non-compliant. However‚ the suspension was lifted after tests conducted by the SABS.
Fubbs said she had learnt that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) had subsequently investigated the matter and that senior management of SABS had found a possible case of collusion and/or manipulation of processes at the SABS laboratory in Mpumalanga.
“I became aware that preliminary information from SABS shows a clear breach of established protocols and that the tests conducted for the Brakfontein/Tegeta coal was irregular in a number of aspects‚” Fubbs said.
Fubbs said it was worrying that the “irregular” test results had been used to justify lifting the suspension of the Tegeta contract.
In a statement‚ Fubbs said that a two-way test was used instead of the normal three-way process‚ without independent verification that Tegeta was the source of the samples‚ which was delivered by hand to the laboratory. Mine officials had insisted on staying on site while tests were carried out‚ which was also irregular.
“The Chairperson welcomes the Minister’s speedy action in this regard. The Chairperson is extremely concerned about the preliminary finding. Parliament does not tolerate the flouting of processes or regulations‚” Fubbs said.
She called for the suspension of all individuals implicated in the initial investigations and for tougher action to be taken once the investigation is finalised.
“I have written to the Minister and indicated that the preliminary findings will be brought before the full complement of the Committee for discussion at its sitting on Tuesday.”
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