South African in a R6-billion scandal involving COVID-19 masks in the UK

A South African businessman is embroiled in a R6-billion COVID-19 masks scandal in the United Kingdom.

Nathan Engelbrecht’s company Ayanda Capital provided 43 million masks to the government hospitals in the United Kingdom, but these were rejected and recalled because they don’t work. 

Reports in the United Kingdom and South Africa have revealed that the 43 million masks provided by Ayanda Capital in terms of a contract signed in April, could not be used because they did not fit properly. Businessinsider.co.za reports that the masks did not fit because instead of head loops, they have ear-loop fastenings, which according to UK standards means that they may not fit tightly to create a seal between the mask and the face.

The British Broadcasting Corporation reported that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was “very disappointed” about the masks

The Times, a British publication, has reported that the UK government is now being sued by two companies for its decision to award the contract to Ayanda. The Labour Party, the official opposition, has demanded an inquiry into why Ayanda got the R6-billion deal, the report added.

Englebrecht’s Ayanda capital defended itself. “The masks went through a rigorous technical assurance programme and meet all the requirements of the technical specifications which were made available online through the government portal. There are provisions in our contract for product to be rejected if it did not meet the required specification as per the contract. These provisions have not been activated,” it said, in a statement published by the BBC.

According to Businessinsider.co.za, Engelbrecht told UK publcation Wealth Manager that due process was followed throughout the procurement , including “full technical assurance of the products involved and thorough due diligence of our ability to perform the contract”. 

Engelbrecht is a director of three South African based companies, including Ayanda, according to the records of the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission records.

Alan Murray, chief executive of the British Safety Industry Federation, told the BBC thatthe  products with ear loops fail this test more often than those with head harnesses.

The BBC also reported that Ayanda Capital also supplied 150 million Type IIR masks, which the government says were unaffected. Most have now been delivered but they have not yet been released for use in the NHS and are awaiting further testing.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told the BBC: “For months, we were told that the government was purchasing the right equipment for the front line. Yet again it hasn’t happened.

Calling for an inquiry into “what went wrong”, Sir Keir said the situation was “just not good enough” for the NHS workers who needed the protective kit. – AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER.

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