Cape Town - A law firm linked to former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu made R162 million from departments she previously headed.
According to Premier David Makhura, Ngcebetsha Madlanga Attorneys was paid R103 million by the Gauteng Health Department and also received R59 million for work done for the Department of Infrastructure Development (DID) which was previously headed by Mahlangu as well.
Mahlangu was the Gauteng Infrastructure Development MEC from July 2012 until April 2014 when she became the province's Health MEC. She resigned in February 2017 after pressure from political parties over the Life Esidimeni tragedy which saw at least 144 psychiatric patients died when they were transferred to NGOs and institutions which were not equipped to house them.
According to Makhura, the DID frequently contracted NMA to do work on its behalf, including numerous advisory opinions and the drafting of Service Level Agreements.
For legal services provided in three separate disciplinary cases, NMA charged R2 million, R1.7 million and R1.1 million respectively, an amount which the DA says "seems really excessive".
Other amounts charged by the law firm including R7.3 million to do an audit of all litigation since DID split from the Department of Public Works and Transport in 2009 and R1.9 million for legal advice on a forensic report have also been slammed as a "rip-off" by the opposition party.
DID MEC Jacob Mamabolo said NMA was appointed in November 2012 as part of a Panel of Attorneys' tender, and “there was no quotation and NMA Attorneys were paid for actual work done. This is a professional service that is billed on a time and cost basis.”
"I find it highly suspicious that NMA were Qedani Mahlangu’s personal lawyers before she was called to testify at the Esidimeni Arbitration Hearings, and they did very lucrative legal work, totalling R162 million, for two provincial departments that she has headed as MEC. They have not done work for any other provincial department," said Bloom.
According to Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa, NMA’s bills are being reviewed for possible overcharging and she suggested that Mamabolo should also refer the DID bills to the Law Society for a professional assessment.
The DA has called for an independent inquiry into the appointment of MMA and wants them to be held to account if it is found that they have inflated their bills.