Gauteng Health Head should be suspended

Gauteng Premier David Makhura should immediately suspend Professor Mkululi Lukhele, the Head of the Gauteng Health Department, who is implicated by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) in the irregular award of PPE contracts according to a report in City Press newspaper today.

According to the report, damning evidence has been unearthed of price tampering, inflation of the value of goods, and collusion between Gauteng health officials and companies that were awarded lucrative PPE contracts.

This includes R80 million payments to a company owned by presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko’s husband, Nkosi Thandisizwe Diko. The Diko’s are family friends of suspended Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku and his wife Loyiso.

The SIU has reportedly found that Lukhele failed to institute disciplinary processes against Lehloenya even after her “unlawful and irregular conduct” was reported to him.

Makhura has been inexplicably slow in suspending Lukhele who is the accounting officer for the department and was plainly derelict in his duty to ensure that proper procurement procedures were followed.

Last month I called for Lukhele’s suspension after it was revealed in a reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature that he

authorized the choice of a fishy company for a R140 million contract that was found to be irregular and cancelled after R17.2 million was already paid.

The SIU reports need to be made public and criminal charges instituted against all those implicated in corruption.

I welcome the SIU’s reported recommendation that Lehloenya and Lukhele pay back R29.7 million that was overpaid to Ledla Structural Development, a company used to channel money to Diko’s company Royal Bhaka.

Swift action is needed to recover funds and clean up the deep rot in this department, which needs new political and administrative leadership untainted by previous failures.