The Gauteng Department of Health has taken disciplinary action against 123 employees suspected of corruption since MEC Qedani Mahlangu took office in May. Of these employees, 72 have received final written warnings while a further 12 have been dismissed. The department adds that 30 employees will know their fate once internal disciplinary panels have determined their guilt or innocence. Mahlangu is quoted in a Health-e report as saying: “This is one of the ways of strengthening our systems to ensure that corruption doesn’t happen at all levels.”
Mahlangu said that rooting out corruption was on the top of her list as this has the potential of affecting service delivery. And her spokesperson Prince Hamnca said that other employees are currently being investigated for allegations including bribery, abuse of overtime, dishonesty and fraud.
But, according to the DA’s Gauteng Health spokesperson Jack Bloom, Mahlangu must be more ruthless when dealing with corruption, and that the department continues to lack financial control mechanisms. “There was a backlog of dismissals waiting to be signed, so it is good that Mahlangu shortened it but discipline is generally slow,” he said. He alleged that “selective discipline” – in which cases involving politically connected officials are not pursued as vigorously or punished as harshly as others – was dividing the department. He added that this why he believed that President Jacob Zuma had signed off a Hawks investigation into alleged corruption that had occurred during Brian Hlongwa term 2006-2009 as MEC of Health.
“There is a lack of capacity to investigate, so (disciplinary) action is drawn out, which is why criminal charges have still not been laid against Hlongwa”, Bloom is quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, a doctor, who has been on suspension for the past 16 months, following accusations of trying to steal human organs at Diepkloof government mortuary in Soweto, has returned to work. Health24 reports that the doctor was suspended in November 2014 after he was accused of trying to walk out with a bucket allegedly containing the brains and heart of a dead woman.
The Gauteng Department of Health said the doctor was suspended pending finalisation of disciplinary processes, however, he approached the courts to interdict the department. He was allowed to return to work because he was successful in pushing for a pre-disciplinary arbitration. “The department will continue with disciplinary hearings from 20 – 22 April,” it said.
But the DA’s Jack Bloom said the doctor should not have been allowed to return to the mortuary unless he was found innocent. “Desecrating the dead is a very serious matter”, Bloom said. He also accused the department of dragging its feet in the disciplinary case. “I am outraged that the department has taken so long with this sensitive case.” Bloom said the doctor received more than R1m while being suspended on full pay for 16 months.