Medical waste company sues KZN Health over termination of contract

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A medical waste company has hauled KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo to court over the termination of a multimillion-rand contract to dispose of body parts and hazardous waste from state hospitals and clinics. The Times reports that Compass Medical Waste Services, a Durban-based company with a national footprint, applied for an interdict in the Pietermaritzburg High Court to prohibit Dhlomo from terminating the health-care risk waste management and disposal services contract, worth about R185m.

The matter will be heard on 29 April.

The report says Compass, which has been the sole medical waste service provider to the province for the past 20 years and which was awarded the contract at the centre of the legal dispute in 2013, was served with a termination letter dated 24 March, giving it a month’s notice.

In his affidavit opposing the termination of the contract, Compass MD Ian du Randt says that if the interdict is not granted, Compass will be required to remove its services and personnel from hospitals and clinics throughout the province before 1 May.

Du Randt says the termination will cause “extreme disruption” to hospitals and clinics. He points out that medical waste disposal is highly specialised. Du Randt says Compass has “fairly attempted” to engage with the provincial health department but was told the department stands by its decision.

The report says Compass is currently suing the department for R50m for allegedly breaching an agreement relating to a 2000 contract. The department is defending the lawsuit.

KZN Health Department spokesperson Ncumisa Mafunda said in the report that she could not comment as the matter is before court, but “there is nothing untoward here”.

The report says another legal dispute, between Compass and Makhathini Medical Waste was reported on last month. The latter accused Compass of breaching a written agreement they concluded in April 2013 in which Compass contracted Makhathini to transport health-care risk containers from hospitals to clinics. But this claim was denied by Compass, which blamed the department for refusing to honour the service agreement between them.

The Times report

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