Drama as health officials block the sheriff

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heallth officials INLSA A team of employees from the sheriffs department wait for instruction to attach and confiscate assets at the Department of local Government and Housing in the Joburg CBD after the department defaulted on payment. Picture: Antoine de Ras

Johannesburg - “I’m not fighting and I don’t care if it is the MEC or not. I’m just doing my job.”

These were the angry words of the sheriff of the court as two officials from the Gauteng Department of Health blocked him from getting into MEC Hope Papo’s office to attach desks and computers on Thursday.

The department apparently owes a medical supply company R280 000 and ignored a warrant of execution of movable property issued in May. The sheriff had an order to attach 400 computers, 400 desks and 300 desks.

Standing outside the office on the 22nd floor, the two officials accused the sheriff, Lutendo Mukwevho, of being disrespectful and storming Papo’s office without them being aware of what was going on, and ordered him and his men to leave.

However, Mukwevho was having none of it and refused to leave, asking if Papo was above the law. One of the men even accused him of being disrespectful.

“I can’t believe it, here is someone coming here and disrespecting us in our office,” the man said, taking out his cellphone and threatening to call the police.

Clutching the court papers in his hand, Mukwevho said he was the one being disrespected, adding that since he had arrived at the building in the morning, no one had been interested in assisting him.

Mukwevho had arrived at 9.39am, but he and his men had not been let through to attach the furniture. The security guards had blocked the door, preventing them from entering.

After some stand-off with the security guards and another official who spent time speaking on the phone, as well as colleagues from the legal department, two of Mukwevho’s men went back to their truck.

They returned with crowbars that they intended using to break the doors that the security guards were blocking.

“The security (guards) said we should not go in because this is a government building,” Mukwevho said at the time.

The guards opened the door after Mukwevho threatened to call the police and to open a case of obstructing the sheriff.

After the men were let in, one waited downstairs at the door, holding it open so that the security guards did not close it again.

Negotiations with the department’s instructing attorney broke down and a war of words erupted between him and the two officials.

“They are disputing the amount, but that has nothing to do with the sheriff. They must go to court.

“However, I won’t leave without payment,” he said.

Mukwevho later went to the Treasury Department, where he said officials were to make a payment. It was not known at the time of publication whether the payment had been made.

Health Department spokesman Simon Zwane did not answer questions sent to him, only saying the matter had been a result of a dispute involving invoices between the department and the supplier.

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