Gauteng health spends R161 million on legal fees


Wasted Funds

The Gauteng Health Department has spent R161 million in legal fees in the last 4 years.

This information was revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Mahlangu, this is because of “the high influx of cases”. Legal fees paid have increased as follows:

  • 2012/13 – R10.2 million;
  • 2013/14 – R42.2 million;
  • 2014/15 – R71.1 million; and
  • March 2015 to date – R37.5 million

Mahlangu blames the state attorney for delays in payment which have resulted in visits by the Sheriff of the court to attach furniture. She says that “in most cases the state attorney delays to inform the Department of court orders but as soon as the Department is aware of court orders it effects payments on time”.

My view is that the department gets poor value for its high legal fees as it has lost every single medical negligence claim in the past five years.

Unnecessary appeals are also lodged which the department has lost.

Mahlangu says that the department “is considering alternative dispute mechanisms such as mediation to reduce high litigation costs”.

I support this idea as it is speedier and cuts out expensive lawyers.

The best solution is to run a good health service so that the department does not have to defend itself so often in the courts.

Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222


Thousands of unidentified bodies in Gauteng mortuaries


More than 4000 bodies in Gauteng state mortuaries have not been identified in the last three years, and the number of unclaimed bodies has risen from 242 in 2012 to 403 last year.

These tragic figures are revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Mahlangu, the main reasons for unclaimed and unidentified bodies are as follows:

  • Lack of authentic identification documentation;
  • Foreign nationals and South Africans from other provinces who travel without ID documents; and
  • Socio-economic reasons including resource constraints for burial and distance from family.

There has been some decline over the years in unidentified bodies, but an increase in unclaimed bodies.

Bodies are unclaimed usually because families cannot afford to bury them.

The figures given are as follows:

Number of unidentified and unclaimed bodies:

  • 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2013 – 1603 unidentified and 242 unclaimed;
  • 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014 – 1254 unidentified and 334 unclaimed; and
  • 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015 – 1272 unidentified and 403 unclaimed

The Springs mortuary had the highest number of unclaimed bodies over this period (203) followed by Pretoria (181), Roodepoort (145) and Johannesburg (119).

The Gauteng Health Department has been struggling since 2006 to develop an internet system that will assist in people identifying bodies.

According to Mahlangu, the Gauteng Forensic Pathology “is currently developing a comprehensive mortuary management system targeting January 2016 for completion with first phase piloting for February 2016.

I hope that an internet system is implemented soon so that bodies can be identified in this way, rather than relatives going to each mortuary, which is very traumatic and time-consuming.

Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222


Hundreds of abandoned babies in Gauteng hospitals


A total of 374 new-born babies have been abandoned in Gauteng hospitals in the last three years.

This shock figure is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Mahlangu, 147 babies were abandoned in Gauteng hospitals in 2013, followed by 124 abandoned babies in 2014 and 108 babies from January to September this year.

This averages out to about 11 babies who are abandoned every month in Gauteng.

Worst affected was Leratong Hospital where 100 babies were abandoned over this time period.

Other hard-hit hospitals include the following:

  • Far East Rand Hospital – 47 babies;
  • Chris Hani Baragwanath – 30 babies;
  • Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg – 25 babies;
  • Tembisa Hospital – 19 babies;
  • Rahima Moosa, Mamelodi and Bheki Mlangeni hospitals – 17 babies each; and
  • Tshwane District and Thelle Mogoerane hospitals – 11 babies each.

Currently, there are 52 abandoned babies that have been abandoned for more than a month, of which 30 are in Chris Hani, seven at Tembisa Hospital and five at Thelle Mogoerane Hospital (formerly New Natalspruit).

Babies are left at hospitals for a variety of reasons, including teenage pregnancy and unwanted pregnancy, lack of family support, poverty, deserted by the father, fear of parents and resentment.

The department also notes a trend of babies being picked up in the veld, HIV status of parents and foreign mothers.

The cost of caring for these babies is about R2000 a day.

Mahlangu says that the following steps are being taken to deal with the problem:

  • Ensure that parents can be identified and contact details are confirmed;
  • Ongoing educational talks on contraceptives and choice of termination at community level; Referring mothers to social workers to discuss alternative options like adoption; and
  • Offering family therapy to deal with the situation.

It’s very sad that so many mothers feel the need to abandon their babies. Prevention efforts should be broad-based and tackle the societal problems that break the natural bond between mother and infant.

Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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R54m spent on TB hospital that developers want demolished

Critical Hospital

R54 million has recently been spent on the Sizwe Tropical Diseases Hospital that developers of a proposed massive housing scheme in the area want to demolish.

This information is disclosed by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

The construction work includes the following:

  • A new 46 bed XDR-TB ward built from 2008 to 2014 for R49.8 million;
  • Renovations of wards in 2012 and 2015 for R1.7 million;
  • New carports for R456 000 in 2011;
  • Multi-purpose centre for R483 000 in 2010;
  • Painting of roofs for R859 000 in 2012;
  • Ablution block renovation for R324 000 in 2013; and
  • Rest area for R99 000 in 2014.

The contract for the development was awarded in January 2012 to the Equisent Infrastructure Development consortium, to develop the Rietfontein site which is bordered by Edenvale and the Johannesburg suburbs of Linksfield and Sandringham.

The contract was awarded by the Gauteng Department of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs (COGTA).

Mahlangu has said that discussions are ongoing with Equisent about demolishing the historic 100-year-old hospital and building a new one by Edenvale Hospital.

Much of the multi-million rand renovation work has been done since the award of the contract, which shows poor coordination between the Gauteng departments of health and housing.

The hospital building is a National Heritage site and plays a vital role in treating multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.

It would be wrong to demolish it purely so that a developer can make vast profits.

Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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Bara babies died because of overcrowding


Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu has acknowledged that 13 babies died last year at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital from Klebsiella infection and that overcrowding was a contributing factor.

She said this today in the Gauteng Legislature in response to my oral questions on this matter.

According to Mahlangu, too many mothers are giving birth to underweight babies and this is growing on a daily basis.

More incubators have been purchased but the ward is now full and needs to be expanded, which she is working to do with the Department of Infrastructure Development.


I am saddened by the death of so many babies from a largely avoidable cause.

The issue of overcrowding in the neonatal ward at Bara has been highlighted for many years, including a shocking photo that was published with new-born babies in a box.

I hope that the expansion of the neonatal ward is expedited to avoid any more deaths from Klebsiella and other infections that pose a danger to low birth-weight babies who are vulnerable because their immune systems have not developed.

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

Linen shortage cancels 154 ops at Helen Joseph Hospital


Operations Cancelled

A shortage of clean theatre linen has led to the cancellation of 154 operations at the Helen Joseph Hospital from January 2014 to July this year.

This information is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Mahlangu, the linen shortage was because of a breakdown of boilers, and improper installation of autoclaves that are used to sterilize linen.

She claims that these problems have now been fixed by the Department of Infrastructure Development.

Worsening Situation

The linen shortage intensified this year as it led to 94 cancelled operations from January to July which averages 13 cancellations a month, as compared to 60 operations cancelled last year (5 ops a month on average).

The worst month was May this year when 40 ops were cancelled.

The hospital has also suffered from shortages of blankets, bed sheets, pyjamas, night dresses and nurses gowns.

This forced some patients to use their own blankets and pyjamas.

Mahlangu says that clean linen will be ensured by doing more washing in-house, procuring linen, and appointing retired nurses to co-ordinate better management of linen between the laundry and theatre/wards.

The maintenance contract of hospital machinery has also been completed.

I hope that measures to ensure clean laundry at all times are successful as it is very disruptive to have so many operations cancelled for an avoidable reason.

It adds to long surgery backlogs that lead to much suffering by patients.

Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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Gauteng health MEC must re-advertise jobs at Lenasia South Hospital



There is confusion about whether Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu has genuinely re-opened job applications for 31 positions at the Lenasia South hospital after accusations that ANC members were given preferential treatment.

Mahlangu was quoted by was quoted by Timeslive yesterday that the department “has delegated the Johannesburg Health District with the responsibility of overseeing the appointment of employees at the facility” and that “this will allay fears concerning the purported interference and maintain the integrity of the appointment process.”

She said that this step followed “allegations of corruption levelled against the Lenasia South Hospital management.”

But according to a written reply by Mahlangu to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature, she says that the job appointment process will not be re-opened in view of allegations of interference and favouritism that have been made to the Human Rights Commission and the Public Protector.

The 31 support staff positions at the hospital, which includes clerks, general assistants, drivers and porters, were advertised on 26 May 2015.

According to affidavits given to the HRC and the Public Protector, many applicants were unfairly denied the chance to apply because they were not given application forms, but ANC members were given the forms.

The local DA branch in Lenasia was successful in getting ANC ward councillor Paul Molutsi removed from sitting in on interviews, but Mahlangu falsely denies that he was ever part of the process.

The DA has also launched a petition to re-open the whole process, but Mahlangu seems to have gone ahead with interviews at the Johannesburg District Office.

According the DA PR Councillor for the area, Martin Williams, the process has been neither fair nor transparent to the community leaders who first raised the issue and have been following it closely since May.

He says that neither MEC Mahlangu nor anyone in her department has kept the community informed. “Instead, ANC-favoured candidates have been interviewed in secret at the Johannesburg District office, without the knowledge of Vinay Choonie and Andries Mahlangu, who have led the complaints process. Choonie and Mahlangu would like to know to whom the process has been transparent. They also want to know if the answers in the Legislature constitute a reply to the petition emailed to her on October 8 and handed in on October 9.”

Suspicions remain that ANC members are still getting preference and Lenasia residents are enraged over this double-dealing. They want to see a genuinely fair process that leaves no doubt that appointments are done without improper interference.

The jobs need to be re-advertised and I will continue to press MEC Mahlangu to redo the whole process.

Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

Crisis looms as Gauteng cuts mental health contract

Mental Health Crisis

A crisis is looming for more than 2000 mental health patients in Gauteng who will be discharged when the Gauteng Health Department terminates its contract with Life Healthcare Esidimeni in March next year.

According to a written reply by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature, the company currently houses 2009 patients who have chronic psychiatric disorders and severe intellectual disability.

Many of these patients are at the Randwest Care Centre in Randfontein and the Witpoort Care Centre in Brakpan – where they receive good care, treatment and rehabilitation in preparation for their reintegration into the community.

Last year, the company was paid R324 million in terms of its contract with the department, and assisted 2378 patients. It has played a valuable role as a halfway house for patients discharged from the Sterkfontein and Weskoppies psychiatric hospitals.


The department plans to discharge mental patients direct to their homes, but many of them do not have homes to go to or are rejected by their families.

Mental health NGOs are already overstretched in dealing with discharged patients.

If adequate alternate arrangements are not made, there will be many vulnerable people left to fend for themselves and at risk of relapse.

The department cannot simply abandon these patients and needs to make proper arrangements for them.

Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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DA welcomes action on biased recruitment at Lenasia South Hospital

Open Recruitment

I welcome the announcement by Gauteng health MEC, Qedani Mahlangu that recruitment for 31 positions at the Lenasia South Hospital will be redone, after allegations that preference was given to ANC members.

This is a victory for the local DA branch in Lenasia that objected when an ANC councillor sat in on the recruitment process, and launched a petition that it be redone.

According to Mahlangu the Johannesburg district office will oversee recruitment.

Much trouble could have been averted if proper procedures were followed in the first place.

Employment at government departments and institutions should never be based on political affiliation.

Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

Gauteng health won’t pay the money so Sheriff takes furniture

Failure to Pay

It is really shameful that the Sheriff of the court visited the Gauteng Health Department head office twice last week because they failed to pay court-ordered damages for medical negligence.

Furniture was saved on the Sheriff’s first visit on Monday last week after a payment arrangement for R23 million was negotiated, but on his visit on Thursday he removed furniture despite efforts by staff who locked offices and blocked the lifts.

Sheriff Lutendo Mukwevho and 10 furniture movers arrived with an order to attach 400 desks, 800 chairs, 400 computers, five lounge suites and 50 printers.

According to Clare de Lange of Adele van der Walt Attorneys, the department was served with a notice to pay on 18 June, but as no payment was received they attached the furniture.


The amount owing was R8.3 million for a five-year-old who was brain damaged due to staff negligence when he was born in Tshwane District Hospital in February 2010.

Government departments should respect the law like everyone else.

It’s a poor example when furniture is carted off because the department ignores a court-ordered payment.

I am disappointed because Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu has promised a more professional approach to settling negligence cases, but it seems that old habits die hard.

Perhaps they should attach her desk first so that she gets the message!

The vast tragedy of hospital negligence cases is worsened when the department tries to avoid its legal obligation to pay damages.

Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222