Former Gauteng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu failed to share information about three NGOs that were being used as "fronts" to illegitimately claim funds. Picture: Supplied

Johannesburg - Former South African MEC Qedani Mahlangu failed to share information about three NGOs that were being used as "fronts" to illegitimately claim funds, the country’s health ombudsman on Tuesday told a hearing into a probe of organisations used to loot state coffers. 

Gauteng Health MEC Mahlangu, who resigned amid a scandal in which more than 100 mentally ill patients died when they were tragically transferred into the care of unlicensed NGOs, has been brought before the Esidemini arbitration hearings.

Health Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba told the hearing that Mahlangu only gave him information on 27 out of 30 NGOs.

''When I first requested documents from the MEC to help me in my investigation, I requested her to give me necessary information of NGOs that were used, she gave me 27. Later on, I discovered that there were 30...so there were three NGOs I was not informed about, and I tried to find out why,'' Makgoba said.

''I found out that one was fronting for another one. I was not given this NGO to investigate because it was a front for a registered NGO. That means they were accepting patients on behalf of another registered NGO and they were obviously sharing whatever they received between them. The registered one would claim for the number of patients it accepted and also claim for the unregistered one.''

Retired Justice Dikgang Moseneke, who is chairing the hearing, asked Makgoba whether his probe uncovered a pattern for choosing particular NGO's. 

Makgoba said people were asked to accommodate mental health patients as part of a transfer relating to an empowerment programme. He said people were invited to accommodate patients in return for an opportunity to modify or extend their homes.

Makgoba added that there were rumours about department officials who were close with people who ran the NGOs.  Most of the newly established NGO's were in Pretoria, and not widely distributed across the province, he added.