Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa has given the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) the go-ahead to probe top ANC Ekurhuleni official Sello Sekhokho, including his own nephew Hangwani Morgan Maumela, for their alleged roles in allegedly illegally benefiting from massive tenders from Tembisa Hospital.
Ramaphosa signed the proclamation this week, allowing the SIU to probe tenders allocated to Sekhokho, Maumela and various other companies during the last three years or more.
The SIU had initially conducted a probe which was commissioned by the then-Gauteng Premier David Makhura, and they uncovered various irregularities in the awarding of tenders. In its recommendation, the SIU asked Makhura to place the Chief Financial Officer of Gauteng Health, Lerato Madyo and CEO of Tembisa Hospital, Ashley Mthuzi, on suspension.
The two were suspended after the SIU found information that one of senior accountants in the department, Babita Deokaran, had flagged payments to Sekhokho’s companies as “possibly fraudulent’’, but Madyo and Mthunzi allegedly ignored the warnings.
The SIU’s outcomes were released more than a year after Deokaran was brutally murdered outside her house, south of Joburg, on August 23, 2021. SIU investigations were released in December last year.
Earlier this year, Gauteng MEC for Health and Wellness Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko admitted in the provincial legislature that Sekhokho received massive tenders from Tembisa Hospital.
In a written reply to questions in the legislature, Nkomo-Ralehoko said 225 contracts were awarded in the last three years to Kaizen Projects, Nokhokhoko Medical Supplies, and Bollanoto Security. This value of the tenders come to about R84 million.
All these companies belong to Sekhokho. It was disclosed that the three companies got R14.5 million in 55 contracts from Tembisa Hospital in the last three years.
In another written reply in the legislature, Nkomo-Ralehoko revealed that companies linked to Maumela got R356 million from Tembisa Hospital in the last three years, as well as R22 million from Mamelodi Hospital and R2.4 million from other hospitals.
Maumela is Ramaphosa’s nephew from a previous marriage. All the payments are under R500 000, which allows the hospital CEO to sign off the contracts instead of going out to tender.
Nkomo-Ralehoko said that none of the companies have SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) approval for the sale of medical products, and “a number of irregularities were noted after the audit/assessment of internal controls.”
Bollanoto Security allegedly provided no security services, but sold a wide variety of goods and even food supplies. This includes 108 “rainsuits” of various sizes for men and women at a total cost of R1.88 million. This is R17 000 for each rainsuit.
– R196 000 was apparently spent on 17 v-neck jerseys - this is R11 500 per jersey.
– R294 000 spent on socks for Tokyo Sexwale Primary School.
– The food is similarly overpriced - R937 000 was spent on 1920 kg of 6mm boerewors sausage, which amounts to R488 per kg, as opposed to boerewors that can be bought for R100 per kg at a supermarket.
Gross overcharging abounds in the purchase orders of all three companies, e.g. R2.5 million for 40 t-shirts provided by Nokhokhoko and R280 000 for 27 mens parabellum brown leather shoes from Kaizen.
According to DA’s Shadow Health MEC, Jack Bloom, who asked the questions to Nkomo-Ralehoko in the legislature, overpriced goods were still being bought from the companies in July last year.
The Democratic Alliance and the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) have welcomed the news that President Cyril Ramaphosa had signed the proclamation to extend the SIU probe into more than R1 billion Tembisa Hospital corruption.
“I hope the SIU investigation extends to other hospitals, as the fishy companies that got contracts from Tembisa Hospital got contracts at other hospitals as well,” said Bloom.
“The SIU needs to investigate the corruption networks without fear or favour. I suspect that rotten officials in the Gauteng Health Department receive high-level political protection, which needs to be exposed and ended.”
He said the delay in signing the proclamation was unfortunate and that “we need to see speedy justice for the murder of whistle-blower Babita Deokaran, who tried to stop the suspicious payments at Tembisa Hospital.”
Saftu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi shared Bloom’s sentiments.