Dr Tiego "Barney" Selebano. Picture: Brenda Masilela/ANA

Johannesburg - The Gauteng department of health has instructed its lawyers to recover almost R500 million from its former head of department, Dr Tiego "Barney" Selebano, and two other officials, for their alleged involvement in the illegal procurement of an IT tender in 2013.

Gauteng health’s acting head of department, Richard Lebethe, asked the departmental head of legal services, Hlengiwe Goba, to approach the state attorney to file a criminal and civil lawsuit against Selebano, former chief information officer Mojalefa Lekoto and former chief financial officer George Mahlangu.

Legal action against the three followed a forensic report which found that the ICT contract entered into between the department and Telkom was unlawful and illegal.

Telkom was requested to supply information and communication technology infrastructure relating to the storage, computing, networking and backup services.

A forensic investigation initiated by the provincial treasury indicated that the health department, through Lekoto, Selebano and Mahlangu, failed to follow proper and lawful procurement procedures. According to the report, Selebano was responsible for authorising and signing off various documents. Mahlangu was similarly also found to have signed off key documents with Selebano.

The report further stated that Lekoto had allegedly recommended that a deviation should be approved in order to appoint Telkom as a sole provider, without presenting reasons.

On Monday, the DA in Gauteng welcomed the department’s decision to file lawsuits against the three.

DA Gauteng health spokesperson Jack Bloom said: “The department has so far paid Telkom R456m for the cancelled contract, but still owes R94m and R33m interest for late payment.

“According to legal opinion, the department is still bound to pay, even though it was an invalid contract.”

He said the department only wrote to the state attorney on July 18 this year to pursue criminal and civil action against Selebano, Mahlangu and Lekoto, and to recover any monies owed to the department.

Bloom said the R500m Vblock scandal happened under former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu, who resigned in disgrace after the Life Esidimeni tragedy.

“It is deplorable that officials go from job to job without accountability for negligence and probable corruption,” said Bloom.

Contacted for comment, Selebano said he was not aware of the impending action against him and his former colleagues. “I do not know anything about that.”

Mahlangu did not respond to calls made to his cellphone, while Lekoto could not be reached for comment.

Political Bureau