Gauteng government officials who wasted R500m let off the hook
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Johannesburg - Six former senior officials of Gauteng Health who illegally awarded a R500-million data storage tender to Telkom were allowed to resign and no criminal charges were instituted against them.
This was revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi in her written reply to questions by the DA’s spokesperson on health, Jack Bloom.
Bloom submitted written questions to MEC Mokgethi in the provincial legislature asking her about details of investigations conducted by the Health Department since January 2018.
In her reply, Mokgethi said the department had conducted 12 investigations by various external forensic firms, but of these only four investigations were concluded and recommendations made to the department.
Mokgethi said the four concluded investigations were related to fraudulent deposits at Tambo Memorial Hospital; fraudulent activities regarding MVAs at Thelle Mogoerane; procurement irregularities at Emergency Medical Services (EMS); and the last investigation was the IT Infrastructure atV-Block.
She said investigations into the remaining eight individuals were still outstanding, adding that they included supply chain irregularities at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, and illegal procurement of legal services and procurement irregularities at other ,hospitals including Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital.
Despite admitting that investigations were concluded, Mokgethi said disciplinary letters were issued to those implicated for fraudulent activities at Tambo Memorial Hospital and Thelle Mogoerane.
At EMS, she revealed that three officials were acquitted while one was served with a final written warning.
About the illegal R500m contract, Mokgethi said six of those implicated resigned while one was served with a final written warning.
She said there was one outstanding disciplinary matter.
Asked how many criminal charges were laid on the findings of 12 investigations, she replied “Nil”.
In June 2018, then former Gauteng Health MEC Dr Gwen Ramakgopa, when faced with questions related to the R500m irregular contract, told the legislature that there was an ongoing investigation and “fieldwork is being conducted across all the sites where the V-Block is deployed”.
Ramokgopa said that the department would only respond on possible disciplinary action and criminal charges once the investigation was concluded.
The contract was awarded on September 11, 2014 when Qedani Mahlangu was MEC for Health.
In November 2017, it was revealed that R500m had been wasted on the massive V-Block data-storage facility, whereas the storage facility at the e-governance department could have been used instead.
In his reaction to Mokgethi’s latest revelations three years later, Bloom said the Gauteng Health Department had spent R17.6m on 12 corruption investigations since January 2018, but has recovered no money that was desperately needed to provide hospital services for sick patients.
“Nobody was fired as a result of these investigations, although disciplinary warnings were given and six officials involved with the V-Block matter resigned.
“I am astounded that no criminal charges were laid as a result of the investigations, and not a single cent of funds recovered. In the case of the R500m V-Block scandal, this should surely have resulted in criminal charges against the implicated officials. And why was money not recovered in this case?” Bloom asked.
Eight other investigations are still ongoing into various fraud and corruption cases.
He said the most expensive investigation was costing R3.4m, and was looking at human resource and supply chain irregularities at the Bheki Mlangeni Hospital in Soweto.
“I suspect that the department is being ripped off by expensive legal firms who conduct these investigations. In many cases the investigation costs more than what is alleged to have been stolen!” he said
Bloom said the department needed to have effective measures in place to prevent theft and fraud in the first place.
“But if it occurs, the investigations should be cost-effective and speedy, with stolen money recovered and the culprits charged in court. The DA calls for the department to review the exorbitant cost of investigations by legal firms, and to ensure that criminal charges are always laid where indicated. The in-house capacity for investigations should also be expanded,” he said.
Bloom said these measures would enable more money to be spent on the department’s prime purpose – to provide quality health services to sick people.