Criminal charges laid against four public health sector heads

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Lobby group AfriForum has opened criminal cases against four public health sector heads of department in a national bid to curb the “misuse of taxpayers’ money”. News24 reports that the group started the process in KwaZulu-Natal where it charged former health department head Sifiso Mtshali. Charges have also been laid against the heads of the Eastern Cape, Western Cape and the Free State health departments. AfriForum said it would visit all nine provinces from 5-9 November to lay criminal charges.

The report says Thobile Mbengashe, the Eastern Cape Health head was the group’s latest target, and had charges relating to offences in terms of section 86(1) of the Public Finance Management Act 1999 (Act No. 1 of 1999) laid against her. Eastern Cape Health’s annual report indicates that it incurred irregular expenditure of R26.8m in the 2016/2017 financial year. The department also incurred fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R6.8m in the 2016/2017 financial year.

“AfriForum (believes) the misuse of taxpayers’ money is a national crisis. (The heads of department) must prevent irregular, fruitless, wasteful and unauthorised expenditure and must hold guilty parties accountable,” said Arno Greyling, AfriForum’s district co-ordinator for the southern Cape.

The report says the most damage seems to have occurred in KwaZulu-Natal during Mtshali’s tenure, with KZN Health’s annual report indicating that irregular expenditure was R1.3bn in the 2016/2017 financial year. KZN incurred unauthorised expenditure amounting to R18.9m and fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R5.7m in the same financial year.

Under the leadership of health head Godfrey Mahlatsi, Free State Health incurred irregular expenditure to the tune of R300m in 2016/2017 together with unauthorised expenditure of R67m. Led by Beth Engelbrecht, Western Cape Health racked up irregular expenditure of R11.3m in the 2016/2017 financial year.

The report says in response, the national department would only say that it would follow legal protocols relating to the charges.

News24 report

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