File Picture: IOL.

JOHANNESBURG - Irregular Gauteng hospital security contracts worth R650 million annually that were awarded in 2014 have been extended on a month by month basis for three years, the DA said on Wednesday.

In a statement, the DA's shadow MEC for health in Gauteng Jack Bloom said the revelation came from a written response to his questions in the legislature from health MEC Bandile Masuku.

"The security contracts were awarded in October 2014 for a two year period, but instead of advertising for new contracts to start in October 2016 the old contracts have been extended every month since then," Bloom said.

"This is despite the fact that a forensic audit found irregularities and criminal charges were laid against the chairperson of the bid evaluation committee that awarded the contracts. Furthermore, the auditor-general last year criticised the renewed contracts as irregular expenditure."

He said the extensions were also in breach of Treasury regulations which stipulate that extended contracts should not increase in price by more than 15%.

Bloom quoted Masuku, in his written response, as saying that the contracts were extended because they were "for non-negotiable goods and services and were extended in order not to disrupt nor compromise patient care and ongoing patient services".

"This is a weak excuse as there are lots of security companies and it is easy to put out new security tenders," said the DA provincial legislator.

"The department's security costs have more than doubled in the last five years and I suspect that there is gross overcharging and the contracts were allowed to continue because of corruption."

African News Agency (ANA)