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SAFTU WELCOMES THE SUSPENSION OF CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER OF THE GAUTENG DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND THE CEO OF TEMBISA PROVICIAL TERTIARY HOSPITAL

The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) welcomes the suspension of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the Gauteng department of health, Lerato Madyo, and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Tembisa Provincial Tertiary Hospital, Ashley Mthunzi.

It has become apparent through investigative reporting that these individuals are facing serious allegations of corruption, and their suspension was long overdue. They are implicated in the misuse and looting of more than R800 million in Gauteng’s Health Department, with specific transactions that illustrate conniving of friends and couples, and sheer acts of corruption at Tembisa Provincial Tertiary Hospital.

Babita Deokaran, who had become the acting chief financial officer at Gauteng Health Department, was killed in cold blood for flagging out suspicious transactions in the department.

In the recent months, News24 has dug through a trove of papers and emails, making the most damning revelations relating to how money was looted at Tembisa Provincial Tertiary Hospital.

In an article titled “Love me tender…”, News24 revealed one scheme of looting involving a husband and wife, who registered multiple shell companies with the sole purpose of looting nearly R30 million out of Tembisa Tertiary Hospital. The offices or warehouses of these 10 companies by this couple could not be located at their registered physical addresses by News24 investigators. In fact, they even used false physical addresses to register these shell companies.

In another transaction flagged by Deokaran before being assassinated, R500 000 was looted in procuring 200 skinny jeans for girls aged 5 – 7 years, at insanely inflated prices. A different couple established 10 shell companies and pocketed a total of R15 million in contracts from Tembisa Tertiary Hospital.

The tendency to use Tembisa Tertiary Hospital as an instrument of primitive accumulation for a syndicate of looters is more pronounced in that R600 million in purchases within 4 months had already been processed at the hospital alone. Most of the companies that benefited from these contracts, were shell companies and some did not have South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) clearance for supplying medically related supplies.

Though links on whether the CFO of Gauteng Health Department and the CEO of Tembisa Tertiary Hospital have benefited from the streak of looting contracts have not yet been established, it is most likely that they have benefited. How would they sign off crucial contracts to shell companies that did not have SAHPRA clearance if nothing was in the offing for them?

That Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has been authorised to investigate these transactions is most welcomed by SAFTU, and hope for speedy process so that they expose where every cent and Rand went to after being looted from the Hospital. No cent must be left unaccounted for.

Though a little late, SAFTU further welcomes the appointment of an independent forensic investigator to investigate the murder of Babita Deokarana. This will also help the public to establish who are the killers Babita, and most importantly, bring to public knowledge and justice those who orchestrated her killing. It has become clear that her killing was in connection to some of the corrupt contracts in the department of Health Department in Gauteng, the investigation must unearth this web of killers.

The killing of Babita cannot go severely unpunished as it will reinforce the idea that officials in government and private corporations who want to act against corruption can be killed without consequences. This will struck a blow onto good men and women opposed to corruption, and hamstring the efforts to fight and combat corruption. It will also embolden corrupt leaders to not only continue corruption, but to silence their colleagues with death threats and actual assassination.

Having exposed the corrupt awarding of contracts at PRASA, Martha Ngoye is currently on suspension and is being threatened with death, and lives in fear of being killed. She must not be let down like Babita Doekarana, who despite indicating that her life was under threat, the department did nothing to authorise protection for her.

In addition to the investigations by SIU and the Independent Forensic Investigator, the investigation by SAHPRA on the companies that were awarded contracts to procure and supply medical equipment to Tembisa Tertiary Hospital is commendable, and must take harsh measures against these corrupt couples.

SAFTU calls for Justice of Babita Deokaran and calls for measures to be taken to protect Martha Ngoye, and all other whistle blowers living in fear. The corrupt officials who masterminded the killing of Babita Deokaran must be exposed, arrested and be given harsher sentences.