Gauteng Health employee paid R4.7m to stay at home

The Gauteng Health Department has paid its top legal head R4.7 million to stay at home since July 2019.

This is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Mokgethi, Advocate Lebeloane Mpelegeng is Chief Director: Legal Services, but was told to stay at home following a Public Service Commission report on her appointment that found irregularities in her transfer from the Department of Water and Sanitation.

The PSC recommended that the department apply to the Labour Court “without delay” to set aside her transfer to the Department.

The Department made the application to the Labour Court on 18 November 2020, but Mpelegeng opposed it.

Mokgethi says that the Court Registrar has indicated that a date for this matter will only be set in 2023, and “The Department wants to see the matter concluded as speedily as possible, however, remains constrained by the Court’s processes which are outside the Department’s control.”

Meanwhile, there is an acting person in her job, and she has been paid R4 681 700 for the period 1 July 2019 to 30 September 2022.

This is an enormous sum of money to pay for a botched appointment.

It could have paid for 10 senior nurses for a year at our understaffed hospitals.

Lebeloane has a chequered history with the Department – she was former Health MEC Gwen Ramokhopa’s personal assistant when she was fired in January 2006 for misusing state property, but was later absolved on appeal. When Ramokgopa returned as Health MEC in February 2017, she recruited Lebeloane to get her buddy back into the department.

The PSC investigated Lebeloane after complaints about her high-handed management style.

I am appalled that the department’s mismanagement has wasted so much money that should be used to provide better care for hospital patients.

I will continue to expose the appointments of buddies in this department and the protection of cadres like the suspended Tembisa Hospital CEO Ashley Mthunzi.

The DA’s policy of a merit-based public service is needed to fix this ailing department.


No-one disciplined after damning Tembisa Hospital audit

Not a single person was disciplined at the Tembisa Hospital last year despite a damning audit that found a complete lack of controls in the award of tenders.

This is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legidlature.

According to Mokgethi: “This random audit was conducted per the CFO‘s request to
ensure that compliance on SCM and Financial Management policies were adhered to and ultimately to advice on best practices to improve on financial management performance also to ensure that value for money was achieved.”

The audit started on 17 August last year and the team was withdrawn from the hospital on 23 August, which was the date on which whistleblower Babita Deokaran was murdered.

Controls were found to be ineffective in all of the areas investigated, and given a high risk rating as follows:

1. There was no Demand Management section
2. Central Supplier Database was not utilised as prescribed by National Treasury
3. Request for quotations should not have been received by a Supply Chain Management official
4. Treasury regulations not adhered to in acquisitions
5. Irregular expenditure
6. Budget overspending
7. Payments not made within 30 days

It was noted that a Price Check was not done and could have resulted in additional findings.

Mokgethi says that the report was shared with the hospital CEO and management and “the resultant action plan with progress made, challenges experienced with implementation and alternative actions to be taken was considered in entity exco meetings.”

I am astounded that no staff at the hospital were disciplined after this damning report, and there was no further investigation as requested by Babita Deokaran who flagged hundreds of payments amounting to R850 million as “possibly fraudulent”.

A forensic audit is only being done now after a News24 investigation unearthed fishy companies, gross overcharging, and purchases of luxury armchairs and skinny jeans.

If it wasn’t for diligent journalists, the CFO Lerato Madyo and hospital CEO Ashley Mthunzi would not have been suspended.

There should surely have been a rigorous follow-up after this “random audit” was done at the very time that Babita was murdered.

This smacks of a cover-up at the highest levels.

The Health MEC is politically accountable and should be fired immediately.

Her own role in this matter should also be investigated by the Special Investigating Unit.

ANC bigwig scores R14.5m contracts from Tembisa Hospital

ANC bigwig Sello Sekhokho scored R14.5 million in 55 contracts from Tembisa Hospital in the last three years, selling cleaning material, protective clothing, medical consumables, office supplies and groceries.

This is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

Sekhokho is the treasurer-general of the ANC’s Ekurhuleni region. His three companies – Kaizen Projects, Nokokhokho Medical Supplies and Bollanoto Security – got R2.8 million in contracts in 2019, R4.2 million in 2020, and a whopping R7.5 million last year when Dr Ashley Mthunzi took over as hospital CEO.

Mthunzi is now suspended by the Department following the revelation by a News24 investigation that murdered whistleblower Babita Deokaran had flagged R850 million worth of contracts at the hospital as “possibly fraudulent.”

It is strange that Sekhokho’s companies sold such a variety of goods to the hospital, including cleaning material, office supplies and even groceries!

Some of the medical equipment he sold to the hospital was grossly overpriced.

And it is suspicious that all the payments were less than R500 000, which means that they don’t go out on tender and are signed off by the hospital CEO.

But according to Mokgethi: “Current management at Tembisa Hospital is not aware of any irregularities with regards to these companies.”

Despite this, she says:

“The Department through its risk management until will conduct an audit on payments made at the facility. This will then provide evidence of transactions that may require forensic investigation should there be evidence enough to link up officials who may have conducted irregularities. The process of conducting forensic investigation is centralized in the office of the Premier.”

Sekhoko has scored massively over the years from contracts with just one hospital. I have asked follow-up questions about how much his companies got from other hospitals as well.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

I suspect there are rackets in all the hospitals with collusion by corrupt officials, often deployed ANC cadres.

Other ANC bigwigs use fronts to siphon off huge amounts of money to fund lavish lifestyles and win positions at ANC conferences.

Meanwhile, patients suffer as hospitals waste money on overpriced goods instead of essentials to provide quality treatment.

It’s a heinous crime to steal from sick and poor people, but this is effectively what is happening. I wonder how they sleep at night.

The ANC is in the dock and cannot sidestep responsibility for the systematic looting that costs lives in our public hospitals.

After eight years of promises, this is Premier David Makhura’s biggest failure, but it won’t change after he leaves because only a non-ANC provincial government can fix it.

Gauteng Health MEC ducks question on Tembisa Hospital corruption

Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi today ducked my questions at a sitting of the Gauteng Legislature on why a forensic investigation into suspicious payments by the Tembisa Hospital was not done a year ago when murdered whistleblower Babita Deokaran requested it.

According to Mokgethi, there was no official request by Babita, so she declined to give an answer as to why no investigation was done when Babita reportedly flagged the payments and asked the CFO Lerato Madyo to investigate them.

I think that the MEC is being disingenuous by referring to an “official” request for an investigation. According to the evidence in the News24 investigation which is specifically referred to in my question, she had made the request by email and in WhatsApp messages.

Mokgethi also declined to comment on my follow-up question for her to respond to the SANCO statement in June this year that there was corruption at the Tembisa Hospital and that she was allegedly the “mastermind” behind the tender procurement corruption.

It is unacceptable that the Health MEC ducks questions and refuses to take accountability in this serious matter.

Why did she not ensure that there was a thorough probe of everything that Babita was concerned about before she was murdered by people who wanted to silence her?

I suspect that the MEC was part of the cover-up at Tembisa Hospital because it is linked to senior ANC officials in Gauteng.

We know, for instance, that Sello Sekhokho, the treasurer-general of the ANC’s Ekurhuleni region, got three tenders worth R2.3 million for over-priced goods at the hospital.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura is also delinquent in not ensuring a proper investigation was done a year ago.

It is important that politicians do not escape accountability rather than solely blaming errant officials.

Bara Hospital Without A CEO For More Than A Year

The Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital has operated without a permanent Chief Executive Office (CEO) since January last year, but an appointment process is in place for a new CEO.

This is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Ramokgopa: “The vacant position of Chief Executive Officer was advertised in the national media with a closing date of 15 December 2016. The department received four applications in this regard and the appointment process is in place.”

She added “no appointment has been finalised.”

It is highly regrettable that this large hospital has suffered without a permanent CEO for so long.

Former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu is to blame as she removed the previous CEO Dr Sandile Mfenyana without any explanation and dithered in finding a replacement.

I hope that Ramokgopa moves speedily to finalise the appointment of a dynamic and competent CEO to lead this major hospital which treats many thousands of patients.



Media Enquiries
Jack Bloom MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health
082 333 4222

Gauteng Health Subsidises 6661 Mental Health Patients In NGOs

The Gauteng Health Department spends R101 million a year subsidizing 6661 mental health patients in NGOs.

This was revealed today by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in an oral reply to my questions at a sitting today of the Gauteng Legislature.

Ramokgopa said that there was a process of reviewing compliance with all the licenses of these NGOs.

She clarified that this was separate from the unlicensed NGOs to which the Esidimeni patients were transferred which led to more than 100 deaths.

The figures given by Ramokgopa directly contradict the statement by Premier David Makhura in his State of the Province address that “The Executive Council and I would have never approved a plan to outsource mental health, a primary responsibility of the state to care for the vulnerable in society, to NGOs”.

It is in fact a long-standing policy and practice for the Gauteng Health Department to subsidize mental health patients in NGOs.

This has merit provided the NGOs are properly licensed and monitored, unlike the NGOs where the Esidimeni patients were sent.

Makhura has shown inexcusable ignorance of what the health department is doing with regard to mental health patients, which implicates him further in the lack of oversight that led to deaths of the Esidimeni patients.




Media Enquiries
Jack Bloom MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC
082 333 4222

Deadline Not Met For Transfer Of Esidimeni Patients

The 45 day deadline by the Health Ombudsman looms today for moving more than 700 patients from unlawful NGOs to facilities where they will receive proper care and treatment.

In his report, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba recommended as follows:

“All patients from Life Esidimeni currently placed in unlawful NGOs must be urgently removed and placed in appropriate Health Establishments within the Province where competencies to take care of their specialized needs are constantly available, this must be done within 45 days to reduce risk and save life; simultaneously, a full assessment and costing must be undertaken.”

According to a statement last week by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa, only 63 patients had been moved from two NGOs.

The main alternatives for the patients are the Selby Park Clinic and re-opened Life Esidimeni facilities.

It seems that 20 unlicensed NGOs are still looking after hundreds of patients.

Life Esidimeni has indicated that it would take a number of weeks for them to safely accommodate a large number of the patients.

Ramokgopa has said that R495 per day is being paid for each patient at the private facilities, which amounts to about R15 000 per patient per month.

This is considerably higher than the R320 per day that was paid previously to Life Esidimeni, which amounted to R9920 per month for each patient.

It highlights once again the folly of former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu in cancelling the previous contract with Esidimeni after a study by the Health Advance Institute in May 2015 found that this was good value for money.

I appreciate the care that is now being taken to involve relatives in the transfer to new facilities, but I am concerned that so many patients remain in unlicensed NGOs.

At least two more patients at these NGOs have died since the release of the Ombud’s report on 1 February.

We need more transparency about the reasons for the delay and a timetable for the transfers to be concluded as soon as possible.



Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

[Image source]

Gauteng Health Department Ignored Report That Could Have Saved Esidimeni Patients

Health Advance Institute Report

A report commissioned by the Gauteng Health Department in May 2015 found that the service provided by Life Esidimeni (LE) for psychiatric patients was “good value for money” and made recommendations that were ignored concerning the monitoring of patients transferred to NGOs.

According to a written reply by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature, the report was done by the Health Advance Institute (HAI) which was asked to evaluate the cost of LE’s services and to evaluate the appropriate daily tariff per patient.

The report cost R410 500 and was sent to the department on 22 May 2015.

HAI found that the profit over all LE’s facilities in 2014/15 was R29.85 million (13.8%) on a turnover of R215.74 million, which was considerably lower than the 28% average profit by health companies on the JSE at that time.

Instead of a predicted average cost of R320 per patient per day in the five LE facilities for 2260 patients, the actual cost was R262 per patient, which was 22.6% lower than expected.

The report says that “LE low costing is probably due to a combination of low infrastructure costs, large number of patients per unit, patients treated in groups rather than individually, below expected staffing levels and efficient management.”

According to HAI “there is generally substantial compliance with the terms of the Service Level Agreement (SLA) within the following areas: patient cleanliness, nourishment of patients, good relation between patient and staff, treatment and care.”

They did note, however, some areas for review, including:

– a dischargeable status within one year was not met that was a requirement of the SLA and may not be achievable
– no record of milestone observed in the patients file
– limited explanations on the management of treatment to the patients and family
– upholding the responsibility to try to find alternative accommodation for all the patients
– setting up an appropriate M & E system

The report concludes as follows:

“In general the service provided by LE is good value for money. HAI believes that sufficient and relevant information has been obtained to enable the Gauteng Department of Health to make sound and evidence-based decisions with regards to the future financial planning and management of this SLA.”

Former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu

Suggestions were also made, including the following:

– establish task team to define the minimum standards required … in selection of the new places or alternative accommodation
– urgent inspections and reporting on each of the facilities to which patients were distributed after termination of the LE contract in relation to the norms and standards as defined by the task team
– to withdraw and re-accommodate any patients who are in sub-optimal conditions
– establish regular monitoring inspections at all facilities where patients are to be managed.

On the basis of the report, the department granted a tariff increase as requested by LE.

This report undermines the claim by former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu that LE was overcharging and that the contract was terminated because of high cost.

Furthermore, the recommendations concerning monitoring of patients sent to other facilities were ignored, which led to the tragedy of more than 100 deaths as found by the Health Ombudsman.

It is further evidence of gross negligence by Mahlangu and senior officials that should lead to a conviction of culpable homicide in a court of law.





Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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Gauteng Health Owes R1.2 Billion To Suppliers

Late Payments to 808 Companies

The Gauteng Health Department owes R1.234 billion in late payments to 808 companies that have not been paid within the legally required period of 30 days.

This is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Ramokgopa, only 38% of companies were paid within 30 days as at 31 January this year.

Longer-term non-payments include the following:

  • 332 companies owed a total of R555 million for longer than 3 months
  • 204 companies owed a total of R135 million for longer than 6 months

Amounts owing for more than 6 months range from R169 owed to Lane Optical to R18.4 million owed to Johnson and Johnson Medical (full list will be supplied on request).

Outstanding Supplier Payments within the PFMA Requirements

Ramokgopa says: “The department is facing a serious challenge when it comes to paying suppliers because of a budget allocation that is not sufficient to honour all outstanding supplier payments within the PFMA requirements.”

She gives the following reasons:

  1. Settlement of medico legal claims
  2. Payment of prior year accruals due to an increase in foreign patients and patients from other provinces
  3. Shortfall in compensation of employees due to getting a salary adjustment amount that is lower than the one announced by the DPSA
  4. OSD for medical officers and the impact of salary adjustment for Specialists
  5. Changes in policies not initially budgeted for e.g. Test and Treat
  6. Section 27 (1) of the constitution which compels treatment for anyone presenting at any of the facilities in the province

The problem is that many companies, especially small ones, are in extreme distress because of non-payment and some are laying off workers or going out of business.

Some companies are refusing to supply essential medical services or instruments, which is negatively affecting patient care.

Poor management is to blame for much of the financial shortfall in this department which fails to get a clean Auditor-General’s report. Extra costs arising from the Life Esidimeni debacle will also worsen the department’s budget deficit.

A short-term bailout from the provincial treasury is needed but this needs to be followed by real reform to improve efficiency and rein in costs.

Promises have been made for many years that the department will pay all its bills on time. It is high time these promises are kept.




Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

[Image source]

Clinic Staff And Patients Suffer In Sick Building

Jeppe Street Clinic

Staff and patients at the Jeppe street clinic in inner-city Johannesburg are suffering from moldy walls that smell and cause health problems.

I visited the clinic last week after receiving complaints that staff were getting chest infections because of the poor state of the old building in which the clinic is based.

The emergency room is worst affected, with ugly mold infesting the walls giving off a pungent smell (photographs available on request).

This is clearly unhealthy and unacceptable in a health facility.

Staff and Patients Affected by Sick Building

There are other problem areas of mold and leaking ceilings at this clinic.

Staff at this provincial clinic have protested several times about their poor working environment but have been ignored by the Gauteng Health Department.

It is unacceptable that the health of staff and patients is affected by this sick building.

It is yet another example of inadequate maintenance in our health facilities.

The Department needs to act speedily to fix the clinic building otherwise the situation will deteriorate even more.




Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

[Image source]