A 38-year-old South African has found himself in the spotlight over a R6-billion contract to supply almost 50 million masks to UK hospitals. eNCA correspondent Benji Hyer brings us this report from London. Courtesy #DStv403
LONDON - A 38-year-old South African has found himself in the spotlight over a R6-billion contract to supply almost 50 million masks to UK hospitals.
Nathan Engelbrecht is co-founder of Ayanda Capital, which was given a contract to provide protective equipment to Britain’s National Health Service amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
But the UK government claims the masks don’t comply with British standards.
Instead of head loops, they have ear-loop fastenings only which don’t fit tightly enough to create a “seal” between the mask and the face.
The company focuses on a broad investment strategy, specialising in currency trading, offshore property, private equity and trade financing.
How, then, did Ayanda end up supplying personal protective equipment, or PPE, for medical workers, and delivering millions of inadequate masks?
Ayanda issued a statement, arguing that “the masks went through a rigorous technical assurance programme and met all the requirements.”
The company insists that head hoops were not a mandatory feature at the time of the order.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he’s “very disappointed” about the masks, which have been recalled, and the opposition Labour party is demanding an inquiry. The UK government is being sued over the purchase.
It’s not the first time safety kit has been found wanting during the UK's fight against coronavirus. In the early weeks of the pandemic, the National Health Service experienced shortages of PPE.
eNCA tried to put the claims about Ayanda's mask contract to Engelbrecht himself without receiving a response to our inquiries.