Questions Remain About Hlongwa’s Alleged Undeclared Interests

Lifestyle audits should be considered to check whether elected representatives are being truthful when they declare their financial interests every year.

Gauteng Legislature’s Privileges and Ethics Committee Report

This is my proposal following the report of the Gauteng Legislature’s Privileges and Ethics Committee concerning my referral of the alleged undeclared interests of ANC Chief Whip Brian Hlongwa as detailed in court documents.

This report was adopted by the Legislature on Friday last week (click here to view).

According to the report, Integrity Commissioner Ralph Mgijima presented his report, arising from which the Committee noted “that the matter is ‘sub-judice’ in terms of South African law and that it will be prejudicial to the rights of Hon Hlongwa to require him to submit a specific and detailed response in relation to allegations raised in the complaint.”

The Committee acknowledged the status of the investigation as current and on-going pending the outcome of the case which is currently before the South Gauteng High Court, and recommended that the Integrity Commissioner should provide a progress report on the matter in due course.


In my view this highlights the weakness of the current system where little verification is done of the financial interests that are declared annually by each member of the Legislature.

My referral was based on court documents in which the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) alleges inter alia that: “At no time did Mr Hlongwa declare to the Gauteng Legislature the holiday to Cuba, payments towards his new house at Eccleston Crescent, various home renovations, rent-free accommodation, cash, spa treatments or other benefits received from Mr Payne, Mr Smidek, Mr Pillay or their various entities.”(Note: Mr Heinz Smidek is the CEO of the Baoki consortium that won the tender from the Gauteng Health Department for a Health Information System).

It was submitted further that Hlongwa and two senior officials “did not declare these benefits because they were well aware they were not innocently given or received, involved contractors to the GDoH and would attract attention.” (see my letter to Integrity Commissioner Ralph Mgijima below for more details of the alleged undeclared interests).

The assets of the Baoki Consortium have now been forfeited to the NPA as they conceded that they could not provide a defence concerning the alleged role of Mr Smidek in purchasing Hlongwa’s former home at 16A College Drive in Bryanston for R4.6 million as well as other gratifications to Hlongwa in order for him to improperly influence the award of the tender to Baoki.

I am disappointed that the Integrity Commissioner did not ask Hlongwa to reply to any of the allegations which are extremely serious. If he is innocent he could surely have provided a response that would not have prejudiced his case in court.

Court proceedings are unfortunately extremely slow, so Hlongwa will continue to serve as ANC Chief Whip despite strong evidence that he was remiss in not declaring his full interests when he was previously MEC for Health.

Declaration of Interests

I will be proposing that lifestyle audits are done in select cases where MPLs appear to be living well above their declared income.

This should have happened when Hlongwa declared in a story in the Sowetan newspaper in 2007 April headlined “I’m too rich for my job” that he had made 10 times his MEC’s salary from his businesses and could therefore afford a R7.2 million house.

Declaration of interests by politicians will only be effective in detecting possible corruption if they are properly verified. Lifestyle audits will be a valuable addition to methods of detecting unjust enrichment by politicians and civil service staff.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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Letter sent to Dr Ralph Mgijima on 6 August 2014.



Dr Ralph Mgijima

Integrity Commissioner

Gauteng Provincial Legislature



Dear Dr Mgijima,




I wish to refer the issue of alleged undeclared interests by Brian Hlongwa MPL as detailed in court documents which have recently featured in the media.

I enclose an affidavit by Thabo Amos Motedi of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations which has been lodged in the Johannesburg High Court by the National Director of Public Prosecutions.

This forms part of an application for an asset forfeiture order for a property owned by Mr Hlongwa at 163 Eccleston Crescent in Bryanston, Johannesburg, as well as the forfeiture of claims against the Gauteng Health Department (GHD) by 3P Consulting (Pty) Ltd and the Baoki consortium.

The affidavit deals with the alleged and or suspected corruption of Hlongwa and other officials or former officials of the GHD in relation to contracts between the GHD, 3P, certain subcontractors to 3P and Regiments Healthcare (Pty) Ltd.

It is a lengthy affidavit that describes in detail how 3P won the tender to establish and manage a Project Management Unit (PMU), how this contract was irregularly increased by 20% from the original R60 million, then increased to R138 million and then extended for three years at a further cost  of R273 366 500. During this time, goods and services were procured to the value of R349 732 721.10 for the GHD by 3P in breach of the procurement and financial management provisions of the Constitution and the Public Finance Management Act.

Furthermore, the relationship is described between Hlongwa and Mr Richard Payne and Mr Niven Pillay, the CEOs of 3P and Regiments respectively. Regiments was allegedly irregularly appointed to review the GHD’s Folateng project at a cost of R3 492 768. According to section 13.5 of the affidavit: “Acting either in their private capacity or through corporate entities under their control, Mr Payne and Mr Pillay paid the deposits on a house for Mr Hlongwa at 163 Eccleston Crescent and further paid to renovate Mr Hlongwa’s houses. Mr Payne also provided cash, an overseas holiday, a spa treatment and other benefits to Mr Hlongwa.”

Page 115 of the affidavit deals with Hlongwa’s failure to declare the benefits received to the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

According to section 353 on page 115: “At no time did Mr Hlongwa declare to the Gauteng Legislature the holiday to Cuba, payments towards his new house at Eccleston Crescent, various home renovations, rent-free accommodation, cash, spa treatments or other benefits received from Mr Payne, Mr Smidek, Mr Pillay or their various entities.”(Note: Mr Heinz Smidek is the CEO of the Baoki consortium that won the tender from the GDH for a Health Information System).

Sections 354, 355 and 356 deal with a previous inquiry by the Legislature’s Integrity Commissioner, and describes how Hlongwa admitted Payne’s assistance in buying his R7.2 million house, but said that he did so as a friend. His lawyer, Mr Siven Samuel refused to answer questions about a R1 million loan by Pillay to purchase the House on the grounds of legal professional privilege.

According to section 356: “There is no evidence of any loan repayment to Mr Payne or Mr Pillay or any of the entities under their control by Mr Hlongwa or his wife or any of the entities under their control. Even if there had been a genuine loan, this was itself a gratification, and ought to have been declared by Mr Hlongwa.”

The submission of section 358 is that Hlongwa and two senior GDH officials “did not declare these benefits because they were well aware they were not innocently given or received, involved contractors to the GDoH and would attract attention.”

Hlongwa’s alleged undeclared benefits include the following:

  • The total amount of R1.5 million paid by Pillay to Brisgo Properties, a company 100% owned by Hlongwa and his wife, to pay towards purchase of the Eccleston Crescent house (see page 81).
  • A further R2.6 million paid by Payne and Pillay towards the Eccleston house (see pages 82 to 84). This was paid through the account of Hongwa’s lawyer, Mr Samuels.
  • The purchase for R4.75 million of Hlongwa’s previous house at College Drive in Bryanston by Kemsing Services (Pty) Ltd, a Cyprus-registered company owned by Smidek. It is alleged that “the timely sale of the College Drive property and the resultant access to the proceeds of the sale constituted a gratification as defined in the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.” (see pages 84 to 88).
  • Free rental when he stayed at the College Drive house after it was sold despite provision for occupational rental of R40 000 per month (see pages 88 to 89).
  • Refurbishment of the College Drive house by Ukwakha Dezign and Creative Building Projects for a total amount of R216 540.37, allegedly paid for by Payne, Pillay and their entities (pages 89/90).
  • Payment of R1 563 674 from Kemsing on 8 May 2009 into Hlongwa’s personal account purportedly for the purchase of furniture but is alleged to be “a cover-up for a cash gratification” (page 90).
  • Payment for renovations to the Eccleston Crescent house amounting to R1 444 382.89 from Pillay, Samule and entities associated with Payne and Pillay (pages 89 to 90).
  • Trip to the Durban July Handicap for Hlongwa and his wife in 2008, including two nights at the Beverley Hills Hotel, paid for by Regiments (pages 92 to 93).
  • Spa treatment for Hlongwa and his wife, complete with limousine transport, on 30 July 2009, paid for by 3P, the value being approximately R8381 (page 111).

All of the above should have been declared in the public declaration of Hlongwa’s interests, but I can find no record of it in the public section of the Register of Members’ Interests for the relevant years. I do not, of course, have access to the confidential section.

I request that you investigate this matter as the apparent failure to declare the above interests would be a major breach of the Code of Conduct.


Yours sincerely,

Jack Bloom


What is the Future of Sizwe TB Hospital?

Today is World TB day on which we should reflect on what should be done to combat this scourge in our country, where 15 000 cases of drug-resistant TB are diagnosed each year but only about half are treated.

While Gauteng has achieved a commendable TB cure rate of over 80%, there is a big question surrounding the future of the Sizwe Tropical Diseases Hospital in Sandringham, Johannesburg which is the only specialized TB hospital in Gauteng  for treating drug-resistant TB cases.

According to a written reply by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature, only 150 out of 266 beds are currently used at this hospital.

According to the MEC: “The number of admissions dropped due to the national decentralization policy where Multi-Drug Resistant TB (MDR-TB) patients can now be initiated on treatment at decentralized sites near their homes”.

The hospital is short of 8 Professional Nurses, 4 Staff Nurses and 10 Assistant Nurses.

The MEC says that there are no plans to close this hospital in view of the extensive Rietfontein housing and commercial development nearby.

But residents have been told by the Rietfontein developers at one meeting that the Sizwe hospital will be closed.

The Sizwe Hospital is a national monument and has an important role to play in combating TB in Gauteng, as well as treating MDR-TB cases from neighbouring provinces.

The Gauteng a Health Department needs to assure us about the future of this hospital in treating specialised TB cases.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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Gauteng Hospitals Owe R2.9 million on Over-priced Diesel

Gauteng hospitals owe R2.9 million to companies that supply diesel for boilers, tractors and back-up generators.

This is revealed in a written reply by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.Jack Blom DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

Companies Owed

The Gauteng Health Department buys diesel from a number of companies in terms of a contract by National Treasury.

The following companies are owed money:

  • Kiarah Chemicals cc                     R936 835
  • One Line Project Solutions cc          R491 150
  • Kebaratile General Trading             R29 227
  • Afric Oil Pty Ltd                             R373 219
  • General Energy Systems Pty Ltd     R1 065 358


I am aware of cases where late supply of diesel has led to generators failing after power cuts, and boilers with no steam to provide heat and sterilise surgical instruments.

Discounted Rates

I am also concerned that the department pays R12.38 per litre of diesel, which is a bit more than you would pay at a local garage.

Surely a discount rate could have been achieved as part of the diesel tender?

This is yet another example where the department is getting poor value for money and there are supply disruptions because of non-payment.

The department should pay its bills and ensure a reliable diesel supply for hospitals.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

[Image source]

1789 Patients Wait for Cataract Ops at Bara Hospital

1789 patients wait for up to 18 months for a cataract operation at the St John’s Eye Clinic at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.

This was disclosed yesterday by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu in a reply to my questions at a sitting of the Gauteng Legislature.

The long waiting list has been worsened by 526 cataract operations that were cancelled or deferred last year.

According to Mahlangu, the cancellations were mostly due to patient factors such as ill-health or lack of consent, but I have heard many stories of cancellations due to equipment failure and staff shortage.

For instance, on 20 January this year, patients with scheduled operations were told to go home because machinery was not working.

It was also reported last year that there were 19 vacancies out of 40 positions.

The St John’s Eye Clinic has the longest waiting time for cataracts in Gauteng.

This is inhumane and an abuse of the elderly which should not be allowed to continue.

We need special measures to improve the situation there as soon as possible, such as the extension of operating hours over weekends, and a partnership with the private health sector.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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Still No Answer Why Gauteng Health Head Left

I am disappointed that six months after the departure of Gauteng Health Department Head, Dr Hugh Gosnell in September last year, we still do not have a clear answer why he left.

In reply to my questions in the House this morning, Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu said that there was a “frank discussion” and that they “separated amicably with no bad blood”.

Dr Gosnell left after only one year in office, which is very unusual, especially after the praise heaped on him when he was appointed.

I am also concerned that it took so long to advertise for a new head of department, which only took place in the press this past weekend.

This department desperately needs a permanent head with the expertise to decisively fix up the many problems which lead to poor service in Gauteng hospitals and clinics.

According to Mahlangu, Gosnell was paid R69 000 for outstanding leave, and the rest according to contractual obligation, which I estimate at more than R2 million for the remainder of his 3-year contract.

I hope that the new head is appointed as soon as possible and is able to restore confidence in the running of this department.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222


R138 million Fees Owed to Closed Gauteng Private Wards

R138 million in patient fees is owed to the Gauteng Health Department from the Folateng private wards that have now been closed.Bloom-Jack1-240x300

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

According to Mahlangu, private medical aids owe R106 million of the total amount owing for patient fees.

After operating for more than 10 years, the Folateng wards at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg, Helen Joseph and Sebokeng hospitals have been integrated into the main hospital for the use of public patients.

These wards were supposed to make money from private patients in order to subsidise public patients, but have lost R77 million in the last three years, mainly because of poor administration.

They were closed after instructions by National Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.

The Folateng fiasco has been an expensive mistake. My estimate is that they lost more than R500 million in total since inception, including the cost of expensive building alterations.

The high level of non-collection from private medical aids shows the general incompetence in running Folateng.

I am pleased that these wards have been closed, but the outstanding money must be collected as soon as possible.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222


Broken Chiller at Joburg Hospital Hits Surgery

A broken Chiller at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital has not been repaired for more than a year, which means there is no back-up to cool operating theatres if any of the other four Chillers breaks down.

This is revealed in a written reply by Gauteng Infrastructure Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Mayathula-Khoza “the hospital is operating without any standby chiller. If any of the four chillers currently running fail, temperatures will rise again, which may lead to the postponement of theatre operations.”

Chiller number 1 has been broken since December 2013 when the compressor developed a leakage and the motor needed to be replaced. The compressor was sent to various places for repair but they failed. The chiller has now been condemned as replacement parts would cost more than R2.5 million.

Chiller number 4 failed in January this year because of a leakage of refrigerant gas and was only repaired in early March because the previous contractor failed to do the repair and had to be replaced.

A number of operations had to be cancelled for three weeks because of the lack of a back-up chiller to keep temperatures down in the theatres.

It is unacceptable that surgery at this flagship hospital is disrupted because of broken equipment. A working back-up chiller should be installed as soon as possible to ensure that theatres are always properly cooled.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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4 Hours for a Johannesburg Ambulance

The Johannesburg Metro Council claims that more than 80% of priority emergency calls are responded to within 15 minutes, but last week I dealt with two tragic cases where an ambulance took more than 4 hours to arrive.

A 67-old-woman in severe pain from cancer was discharged by Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital on Thursday last week and dropped at the Umlusi home in Bertrams in east Johannesburg.

She was in severe distress and bleeding, and should never have been discharged, arriving with nothing more than a small packet of Panado.

Umlusi is an NGO that accommodates destitute mentally disturbed people but cannot provide medical care for severe illness.

Umlusi manager Martin Botha called Johannesburg emergency services shortly before 2pm to take her back to the hospital, but the ambulance only came at about 6pm.

Botha was told that there was a delay because there was only one ambulance in the area.

Later that day he had another bad experience when he called an ambulance for an elderly man at the nearby Park Village old age home. It also took 4 hours and he was given the same excuse that it was the only ambulance in the area.

I am deeply suspicious of the emergency response figures given by Johannesburg Metro Council. They claim that even low priority cases are virtually all responded to within an hour.

My view is that Johannesburg provides false figures to the Gauteng Health Department which delegates its responsibility for emergency services to the council. Instead of fixing the service, they fix the figures.

Horror stories abound of ambulances that take hours to arrive, which endangers peoples’ lives.

The Department should investigate what the real response times are, and take strong measures to ensure that Johannesburg residents get a decent emergency ambulance service.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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Unacceptable 7 year wait for hip replacement at Bara hospital

I am shocked at the reported case of a man who was informed that he would have to wait 7 years for a hip operation at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.

Mr Aubrey Moerane (53) was informed in a letter from Dr Frey, Head of Arthroplasty, that there is a joint replacement waiting list of 1200 people, and that he could only be treated in November 2021.

This is utterly unacceptable. The usual waiting period at other hospitals is up to three years, which is also bad, but not as ridiculous as asking a patient to endure pain for 7 years.

I am also disturbed that Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu did not disclose this long waiting time for hip operations in a written reply last year to my questions on surgery at the hospital. According to the reply, there were only 220 Orthopaedic patients who waited 10 months for surgery. Why was the true situation withheld from me?

According to Mahlangu, 3176 patients at Bara Hospital wait for operations, of which 2548 are for cataracts.

More than 300 operations were deferred last year at Bara mostly due to a lack of Intensive Care Unit  beds, and limited theatre and surgeon time.

Special measures are needed to cut down the huge backlog. Operating hours should be extended, including weekends, and the private health sector should be contracted in as well.

Better maintenance of equipment would also help prevent frequent cancellation of surgery due to equipment breakdowns.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

Gauteng Health Pays R276m for Medical Negligence

The Gauteng Health Department paid R276 million over two years for 110 legal claims, the vast majority for medical negligence at hospitals.

This is revealed in documents I obtained from the department after making an application under the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

The highest pay-out was R16.5 million in the case of Kutloano Ntsebeng Makgomarela, who was brain-damaged when she was born at the Tembisa Hospital.

The Sheriff of the court visited the department seven times in 2013/14 because of overdue payments, and R4.4 million was wasted in paying interest on overdue accounts

R155 million was paid for 59 legal claims for the 2013/14 financial year and R121 million in the previous year for 51 court cases,

The upward trend in negligence cases is worrying, as is the department’s poor handling of these cases as it has lost every single case in the past four years.

I hope that the court cases spur action by the department to root out bad medical practices that injure patients.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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