Thursday, 18 April, 2024
HomeNews UpdateCourt orders Phaahla to act on fraud report

Court orders Phaahla to act on fraud report

Health Minister Joe Phaahla was given until Tuesday this week to act on a widespread, R1.2bn corruption report that he had allegedly been attempting to conceal for months, with the Gauteng High Court also slapping him with a costs order for the application.

He faced up to two years behind bars if he ignored the directive, reports News24.

The court had ordered him to explain, by the deadline, what had happened to an October 2020 forensic probe that uncovered large-scale graft by the North West Health Department.

The report found that several laws were broken in the awarding of 22 companies’ security contracts in September 2019 to guard the province’s health facilities and offices.

The original security tender amount was R900m, which swelled to more than R1.2bn, found a 2020 Auditor-General report, because of disregard for financial controls.

The High Court judgment came on the heels of a legal challenge launched by Dr Buyani Makhubu, the North West Health Department’s former supply-chain management director, who was fired in July 2022 for allegedly being involved in the corrupt contract, despite the October 2020 report finding that he “never played any role (in) the awarding of the tender for physical security services”.

Makhubu launched his urgent application to force Phaahla to share the signed report with him so that he could challenge his “unfair” dismissal with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

Although Phaahla requested a postponement to the court application to verify the report’s information, the court dismissed this, saying he’d had three years to finalise the recommendations, including probing its deputy director-general for primary healthcare, Jeanette Hunter, who was implicated for leading the alleged fraud when she was the NDoH-appointed administrator in the North West from 2018 to last year.

Phaahla’s spokesperson Doctor Tshwale said the minister would “provide an update (on the findings) as per the court order” and that “the matter is receiving the deserved attention”.

Concerted corruption cover-up

According to court filings, Phaahla ignored about seven letters – sent between March and August this year – from Makhubu’s lawyers requesting the signed report. This was what necessitated the court challenge.

News24 established from several well-placed Health Department sources that Phaahla, in his alleged concerted corruption cover-up efforts, had orchestrated the 29 August suspension of Advocate Maile Ngake from the national Health Department’s anti-corruption unit.

Ngake authored the 2020 report and has spent the past three years agitating for its recommendations adherence.

A source said the report would “expose many people, including the Minister, of corruption”, adding that “Phaahla is busy victimising senior officials to hide the crime, which is why Ngake had to be removed because he is fighting for things to be done properly”.

The Health Department denied this, and “categorically dismisses the allegation that Advocate Ngake has been suspended by the Minister … or even that his precautionary suspension has anything to do with a report he may have authored”, it responded.

 

News24 article – EXCLUSIVE | Corruption cover-up: Court forces health minister to act on R1.2 billion fraud report (Restricted access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

DA: 8 years and R130m later, North West health centre still not open

 

North West Health boss fired over alleged Gupta fraud links

 

Unions combine to hobble North West Health over corruption

 

Gauteng to probe R708m in ‘irregular’ hospital security contracts

 

Third year of Gauteng Health irregularly extending R675m in contracts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MedicalBrief — our free weekly e-newsletter

We'd appreciate as much information as possible, however only an email address is required.