Parliament wants to tighten the law to stop the activities of lawyers involved in multibillion-rand lawsuits against provincial departments.

Members of the joint committees on health and appropriations called for an investigation on Thursday into the milking of billions of rand of the state by lawyers.

Lawyers were accused of turning the provincial departments of health into another Road Accident Fund with these large claims.

The National Treasury said claims against the provinces had risen from R28billion to R43bn. Members of the joint committees accused the lawyers of collusion.

The ANC's Sibongile Manana called on Parliament to act. She accused some of the lawyers of even stealing documents to bolster their cases in court.

“I experienced it when I was the Health MEC in Mpumalanga,” she said.

The chairperson of the portfolio committee on health, Lindelwa Dunjwa, said she had also heard of cases in other provinces where lawyers were touting in hospitals and Early Childhood Development centres to look for clients to represent in lawsuits.

She said she had also been told of the theft of files from hospitals by lawyers. One province had confirmed that some files of patients had gone missing.

“We know that the tap has been closed at the Road Accident Fund, and now these lawyers have seen a loophole in the Department of Health,” said Dunjwa.

Ndaba Gcwabaza of the ANC added: “It’s a national issue, and it requires a full investigation.”

Malcolm Figg of the DA said the matter needed urgent attention. “The perpetrators must be dealt with.”

Political Bureau