Thursday, 13 June, 2024
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ANC bigwigs score millions from Tembisa Hospital

ANC Ekurhuleni boss Sello Sekhokho sold groceries, office supplies and medical equipment to Tembisa Hospital worth nearly R15m in three years, providing easily available goods at vastly inflated costs, charging a staggering 533% above a fair market rate for items like head blocks.

In response to questions by the DA’s Jack Bloom, Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi replied that three little-known companies controlled by Sekhokho received 55 individual payments routed through the hospital.

The three, Kaizen Projects, Bollanoto Security and Nokokhokho, were among 217 entities Babita Deokaran had flaggged three weeks before she was assassinated, part of a report into an R850m surge in “possibly fraudulent” procurement out of the hospital.

A News24 investigation, drawing from 60 000 emails and the contents of Deokaran’s cellphone, put Sekhokho and his companies at the centre of the scandal, which has seen the suspension of Tembisa Hospital CEO Ashley Mthunzi and Gauteng Health CFO Lerato Madyo. In her report, Deokaran identified a R2.3m windfall for the three firms from a single payment proposal.

Nokokhokho won 36 of the 55 contracts, supplying cleaning material, medical and office supplies, protective clothing and groceries to Tembisa; Bollanoto Security was paid R2.4m for “medical consumable supplies” and protective clothing worth more than R200 000. The cumulative value of his hospital trade is R14.5m

Bloom told News24 that “this is just the tip of the iceberg”. “I suspect other ANC bigwigs are less brazen and use fronts to siphon off huge amounts of money to fund lavish lifestyles and win positions at their conferences,” he added.

Days before her murder, Deokaran told a colleague Madyo had instructed her to pay Kaizen.

“Almost a million rand to an events management company for medical-related items. How does such a big company not have a company profile on the internet? How do they get business if they are not visible to the public? I highlighted this to the CFO (Madyo), but she indicated that we should go ahead and pay them,” she said. Madyo said the company should be paid and told Deokaran to keep these payments quiet.

Sekhokho was approached for comment but did not respond.

Earlier, he had said his businesses operated legitimately, refusing to say how much he made on state contracts. He said he usually placed a mark-up of 30% on what he sold to state hospitals, and that his companies did not need websites: they “periodically visited government hospitals to hand out business cards which highlighted their services”.

Asked why three separate entities were billing the hospital at the same time, he said his administrative staff dealt with requests for quotations.

His boon from Tembisa Hospital came ahead of his election as the ANC Ekurhuleni region’s treasurer-general in May.

The Special Investigating Unit is now probing the payment anomalies highlighted by Deokaran before her murder, and Sekhokho’s companies will form part of this. Also under scrutiny will be the payment of R498 000 for a shipment of children’s skinny jeans, and the supply of four plastic buckets for R40 000.

The buckets formed part of an order from another family that scored handsomely in its deals with the hospital, just one transaction in a wash of dirty payments totalling nearly R55m and channelled to a group of companies run by the Mazibuko clan.

Four members of the family control 17 separate entities flagged by Deokaran. A clothing company delivering high-tech medical equipment and others in their web are behind questionable contracts, among them a R250 000 spree on what appears to be children’s arts and crafts supplies.

The extensive family business, operated by the Mazibukos and various shell corporations – which scored more than R110m in contracts from the hospital in two months – are now also on the radar of the SIU, and in the crosshairs of the health products regulator for the illegal trade of medical equipment.

Suspended CEO Mthunzi oversaw the buying spree that saw expenditure outstrip that of large academic hospitals several times over.

While companies in the Mazibuko conglomerate profited from occasional business from the facility for clothing and cleaning supplies at wildly inflated prices, 95% of their windfall came while Mthunzi was appointed to his current position.

A family affair

In November 2019, six companies controlled by the family saw a flurry of 17 transactions that the hospital processed in a matter of days. Most of the deals went to Apollo Clothing, owned by Linhle Mazibuko and her son, Thandolwethu (20), for different items of clothing and other cleaning supplies. Linhle Mazibuko died early this year.

These included lounge shirts at R1 350 each; cargo trousers at nearly R1 500 a pair; and four pairs of hiking boots (two black and two brown) for R3 700 each.

On 8 February 2021, two payments of R19 600 were processed for “bucket heavy duty 12.5l plastic (sic)”. The hospital bought two in red and two in blue, and paid nearly 5 000% more than it should have.

While the mother and son saw a boon from Tembisa Hospital, so too did patriarch Rudolf Mduduzi Mazibuko, who, through seven companies, was due R17.5m in payments flagged by Deokaran. This was from only one Gauteng Health Department payment proposal.

News24 found records of 152 individual payments amounting to R54 743 221. Of that amount, only R2.5m in payments – including those for the buckets and clothing – were processed before Mthunzi took the helm.

The 44-year-old shares a directorship with his late wife in one entity, Ikhaya Lempilo Healthcare, established in 2015.

She too had her own network of companies, which simultaneously billed Tembisa Hospital. A number of these payments were processed in just three days – 13 to 15 July 2021.

Outside the family nucleus is Bhekumuzi Ntshangase, sole director of a company called Minzorex, with his registered business address an RDP house in Geluksoord, a dusty settlement four hours from Johannesburg. Tembisa Hospital processed six payments to the company in a two-day period for surgical devices and surgical cleaning equipment, valued at R1.93m.

Ntshangase told News24 he had nothing to do with the day-to-day running of the business, and that his brother “Mduduzi” handled everything.

“I don’t know anything. I am just a shareholder,” he said, adding that he worked full time at a factory, making animal feed.

In a brief telephone conversation, Rudolf Mazibuko protested his innocence, saying his late wife handled most of their interests and that he would have trouble responding to questions in writing. He requested an urgent meeting and then failed to arrive. None of the three responded to requests for comment.

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) said none of the companies had ever applied for licences to deal in medical devices and had been trading illegally.

Last week, the Tembisa Hospital Institutional Labour Caucus released a statement, calling Mthunzi’s suspension unlawful and irrational. It told the Health Department that if it did not “engage”, it would risk “labour peace”. Shortly after the statement’s release, other unions in the collective distanced themselves from calls for Mthunzi’s reinstatement.

 

News24 article – SILENCED | Inside ANC bigwig’s R15m Tembisa Hospital payday (Restricted access)

 

News24 article – SILENCED | Tembisa Hospital splurge exposed: Leather loungers, skinny jeans and R10 000 for a bucket (Restricted access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

Tembisa Hospital CFO and Gauteng Health boss suspended as SIU begins probe

 

Tembisa Hospital pays footballer and wife R500,000 for skinny jeans contract

 

Uncovering the 200 suspicious Tembisa Hospital contracts flagged by Deokaran

 

Deafening silence on Tembisa Hospital payments scandal – Jack Bloom

 

 

 

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