Johannesburg – A top Northern Cape health official, Dr Dion Theys, charged with fraud and corruption related to theft of millions in personal protective equipment (PPE) funds, has been deployed to another top job in the same department.
The announcement was made by Northern Cape Health MEC Maruping Lekwene after one of the opposition party leaders, Pakes Dikgetsi of COPE, blasted Premier Zamani Saul for allegedly keeping Theys, the head of department, and other fraud and corruption accused in their jobs despite the criminal charges against them.
Theys, 56, Northern Cape Health CFO Mosimanegape Gaborone, 54, and seven other accused, including companies, were charged in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court on several counts of fraud and corruption on August 24.
While the other accused were released on bail on the same day, Theys and Gaborone were only granted bail on August 28, after a formal application.
Theys and Gaborone and several other accused in the provincial health department returned to their jobs. No internal disciplinary charges were laid against them, which led to an outcry by several political parties in the province, with some accusing the premier of protecting corruption.
In an apparent attempt to avoid bad publicity, Lekwene announced this week that he had “transferred” Theys to the position of medical director in the provincial health department and Gaborone was “transferred” to the department of Roads and Transport as the new CFO.
Lekwene’s spokesperson, Lebogang Majaha, said: “The Northern Cape MEC of Health, Mr Maruping Lekwene, steered a series of consultations with relevant statutory bodies, including the Office of the Premier, as part of his responsibility to strike a balance between the protection of the image of the department, the rights of the employees accused on charges relating to fraud and corruption of PPE procurement, all competing public interests, as well as any internal investigation that must unfold.
“As part of consolidating our work in the direction that is expected of this government that we serve, MEC Lekwene announced the changes in accordance with Section 32 of the Public Service Act, 1994, as amended, as well as the Policy on Acting Allowance for Senior Management Service, Dr Alastair Kantani has been duly appointed as acting head of department for Health, effective from September 8.”
“Furthermore, the head of department, Dr Dion Theys, has been transferred as a precautionary measure to occupy the post of a medical director in the Department of Health,” Majaha said.
He said that was in line with Chapter 7, clause 2.7(2) of the Senior Management Service (SMS) Handbook, which states that a SMS member may be suspended or transferred as a precautionary measure pending the internal investigation.
“In the case of the chief financial officer in the department, Mr Daniel Gaborone has also been transferred as a precautionary measure, from the Department of Health to the Department of Transport, Safety and Liaison into the vacant chief financial officer position. The department will identify and appoint a suitable official to act in the CFO position vacated by Mr Gaborone,” Majaha said.
He said in the case of the other four officials accused of fraud, corruption and money laundering, the department would institute the necessary internal processes. He pointed out that one of the accused had already retired.
“This action is informed by our constitutional responsibility to ensure relative stability in the delivery of health care services in the province,” Majaha said.
“MEC Lekwene remains firm in his commitment to continue implementing all steps and measures to ensure that the department inculcates and sustains the culture of accountability and good governance.”