Gauteng's legal fees double in past year

Johannesburg - Gauteng Premier David Makhura has come under fire after the DA revealed that the province has spent almost twice as much in legal fees this year as last year.

On Monday, DA chief whip of the provincial legislature Mike Moriarty revealed that through consolidation of all government departments’ annual reports, it showed that the province has spent R881 million in legal fees - up from last year’s R469m.

Land invasion incidents did not only start when political power changed hands after the elections, Gauteng Premier David Makhura has said. File photo: Antoine de Ras. Credit: INDEPENDENT MEDIA

“The biggest spender is the Department of Health, whose legal costs increased from R238m to R569m,” said Moriarty, who placed the blame on Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu, who he labelled as callous.

DA health spokesperson Jack Bloom also attacked Mahlangu’s conduct, particularly in dealing with negligence claims.

“Her department is expected to pay out about R1 billion this year in settlement of medical negligence cases,” he said.

The Department of Education was next on the list in terms of legal fee expenditure, spending R42m on legal fees and services, up from R27m, followed by the Infrastructure Development Department, which incurred R46m in legal fees.

“Excessive legal claims and legal fees are a natural consequence of an uncaring and inefficient government that forces citizens and suppliers to take legal action,” Moriarty said.

“As a result, Gauteng’s most vulnerable - the poor and unemployed - are being penalised by delayed service delivery due to budgetary constraints.”

He blamed Makhura and the ANC government for spending millions on billboards claiming clean audits in Gauteng, but said that was merely a “smokescreen to cover up the reality that the provincial government is still not delivering”.

The Office of the Premier failed to respond to the allegations at the time of publication on Monday.