Mabuyane vows to act against those implicated in PPE fraud
Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane has vowed to take action against all those implicated in wrongdoing related to the Covid-19 procurement scandal, as he fired health MEC Sindiswa Gomba yesterday.
Mabuyane announced yesterday that he had removed Gomba and initiated disciplinary action against former head of department Thobile Mbengashe over their role in the controversial procurement of motorbikes by the department.
He said he had received correspondence from the SIU at the beginning of February, which led to his action against those implicated.
“The SIU has submitted serious findings of misconduct against both the MEC and the former head of the department,” he said.
He said he had reached out to both Gomba and Mbengashe on the findings against them and requested that they submit representations on why action should not be taken against them.
Mabuyane said his government had also noted that Gomba was among those charged by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for fraud and corruption relating to the preparation of the funeral of former president Nelson Mandela, which he said further motivated his decision to fire her.
“Now that the charges have been re-enrolled all persons accused will get an opportunity to deal with charges that have been there for a long time. We are concerned that this case has been there for more than seven years without charges to a point where charges were provisionally withdrawn,” he said.
Mabuyane said he had engaged with Gomba on the findings of the SIU and the fraud and corruption charges she was facing before giving her the boot.
“The decision will allow her time and space to attend to the case against her. This decision is in the best interest of the MEC and the provincial government,” he said.
Mabuyane however remarked that law enforcement agencies had to arrest people for prosecution and not for further investigation “as justice delayed is justice denied”.
“It is important to raise this point because investigating thoroughly would mean that when arrests are made cases are ready for prosecution, so that people accused can answer to the charges and matters can be processed by the courts of law,” he said.
Cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC Xolile Nqatha has been appointed as the acting MEC for health while he was looking for a suitable replacement.
He said other investigations by the SIU were still under way on Covid-19 related procurement in the province, which he said he would act on when they are concluded.
“We want to ensure that the work of the government continues without stains of corruption and wrongdoing,” he said.
Mabuyane said while Gomba had led the department during the most trying time of the Covid-19 pandemic, he was forced to act against her.
“When investigations happen and findings come out, it is difficult to act like findings have not come out when they have come out. Investigations give you the opportunity to answer for yourself. After that, there is a finding of the investigation. That is where we are,” he said.