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R16m fraud suspect fingered

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Independent Newspapers

Johannesburg - Senior Gauteng Department of Health official Hans Ramogale, who faces a R16 million tender fraud charge, was previously found guilty of procurement irregularities and sanctioned, according to a report on misconduct charges against 139 employees in the department.

But the man at the centre of it disputes this. Yesterday, Ramogale denied he had a previous conviction. He also denied he had been served with disciplinary papers for his role in awarding a R16m tender to a company belonging to his friend.

The department has told standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) chairman Sipho Makama and his team that Ramogale, a deputy director in the department, was among 139 of its employees found guilty or facing numerous counts of misconduct.

They face charges including theft of meat meant for hospitals, abuse of overtime by medical doctors, unauthorised removal of electronic equipment, misuse of state vehicles, issuing and submission of fraudulent medical certificates, and procurement irregularities.

In its report to Scopa, entitled “Gauteng provincial government health financial misconduct 2011 and 2012 financial year”, the department outlines progress on the cases and penalties meted out.

Scopa was told that Ramogale had been found guilty of procurement irregularities, and the sanction given to him had been a “final written warning and three months’ suspension without pay”.

No other details were given on his conviction and sentence.

In May, The Star reported that in December 2009, the Department of Finance’s forensic unit had advised the Health Department to lay internal and criminal charges against Ramogale. The unit made the recommendation after it found that Ramogale had been instrumental in awarding the R16m security tender to a company belonging to his friend, a Durban businessman.

The tender was to guard three health facilities.

The audit report found there had been a corrupt relationship between Ramogale and representatives of security company Isidingo.

The probe into Ramogale’s conduct came after Finance Department officials saw that Isidingo had been awarded a security tender a few months after deadline.

Isidingo filed its bid for the tender on July 17, 2008, two months after the bid was closed, but was awarded the tender on instructions from Ramogale, who was also found to have had a personal relationship with Isidingo’s owner, a man identified only as Padayachee.

The unit relied on cellphone conversations between them to make the “corrupt relationship” link.

In May, then health MEC Ntombi Mekgwe said the three-year delay in laying internal and criminal charges against Ramogale was the result of an audit report not being included in the database of forensic audits of health.

She promised a speedy resolution of the disciplinary process and mooted the possibility of criminal charges being laid against him.

Yesterday, Ramogale said no disciplinary charges had been brought against him since Mekgwe made the announcement. “I don’t have any sanctions against me. I was never charged with the alleged R16m security tender. I am on suspension, but it is on an unrelated matter, which I am not prepared to divulge. I emphasise that I was never called to appear before a disciplinary committee for the security tender,” he said.

But Health Department spokesman Simon Zwane said disciplinary charges against Ramogale were for his role in the security scandal.

“Mr Hans Ramogale is still on suspension. Disciplinary action on this matter is currently under way. The department cannot divulge details around this case as the matter is sub judice,” he said.

Zwane promised to look into Ramogale’s claims that no papers were served against him for the security tender. He said the final warning and three months’ suspension without pay penalty against him were for a previous offence.

The ambiguity in the charges against Ramogale has angered DA spokesman on finance Mike Moriarty, who blew the whistle on the Health Department’s reluctance to charge Ramogale. “It is absolutely crazy. Either a disciplinary committee has happened or not,” he said.

baldwin.ndaba@inl.co.za

The Star


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