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Gospel star linked to Gauteng hospital tender gravy train

Gospel singer Xolani Jwaga, whose events company received more than R1.4m of the R50m spent in allegedly corrupt procurement initiated by suspended Tembisa Hospital chief executive Ashley Mthunzi, is the latest person to be linked to the Gauteng Health Department gravy train.

The Mail & Guardian reports that despite a criminal investigation, which started in August, into how the province’s health facilities had been looted, the modus operandi of initiating vanity purchases below R500 000 has continued, with two companies being paid R499 480 each in October for sports facilities at Pholosong Hospital in Tsakane, Ekurhuleni.

The splitting in half of contracts, to keep amounts below the R500 000 threshold – purchases over this amount have to be advertised for competitive bids – was one of the ways the so-called Gauteng hospital corruption mafia, which highly placed government sources said was headed by Mthunzi, allegedly defrauded the province’s ailing health system.

The sports facilities, seen when the M&G visited the hospital in November, include a football pitch – a gravel patch with weeds growing out of it and goalposts on either side.

Next to the pitch is a netball court which workers at Pholosong said was a “pointless purchase because the hospital needs beds and wheelchairs, not sports facilities”.

XPJ Events, which is owned by Jwaga and listed as an events company, and Kgang Tswelopele Construction were the two companies paid in October to create the sports facilities, with the invoices signed by Pholosong acting chief executive Nthabiseng Makgana.

“The netball and football field (transaction invoice) was split into two as initially it was supposed to be advertised for tender because it was (valued) at R1m,” said a Health Department source, who asked to remain anonymous.

Makgana replaced Mthunzi when the latter was appointed Tembisa Hospital chief executive in June 2021, two months after he had started in an acting capacity.

But Makgana, whom sources have also named as part of Mthunzi’s cabal, has allowed Mthunzi to still have a say in the affairs of Pholosong, including approving and signing off a R488 148 invoice for the repair and maintenance of a Covid-19 overflow ward, three months after he had been appointed in Tembisa.

The payment of invoices to dodgy companies comes after a M&G investigation last year into the activities of Mthunzi and his alleged associates at Pholosong, sourcing more than 1 000 pages of documents and 122 transactions totalling about R50m over three years from May 2019.

The investigation revealed splitting projects to keep amounts below R500 000 was common at the hospital, an example being the August 2021 building of a guardhouse at the main gate, given to R&A Building Supplies and Siyakhula Supplies for R497 915 and R498 500, respectively.

The directors, Ockert Britz at R&A and Lynette Schoeman at Siyakhula, said there was nothing untoward about the two firms getting work at the hospital.

In the four months from December 2020 to March 2021, as acting chief executive at Far East Rand Hospital in Ekurhuleni, Mthunzi brought along two managers from Pholosong, Rose Mashiyane and Joshua Fernandes, to handle procurement at the hospital, where they spent R3m on items including a ride-on scrubbing machine.

The machine has not been used since it was bought for R498 075 in January 2021, and lies idle in the hospital’s corridors, as observed during the M&G’s visit in September.

All payments were below the R500 000 threshold.

The Pholosong transactions included R475 000 awarded to Jwaga’s events firm in December 2020 to host a music concert at Pholosong at the height of the Covid‑19 third wave, when gathering and curfew restrictions were mandated by the government.

Jwaga is known for throwing lavish music events, including one he organised last month at KwaThema Stadium in Springs, Ekurhuleni, where well-known artists, such as Big Zulu, Kholeka Dubula and Ayanda Ntanzi, were on the bill.

In April, Jwaga also received R498 000 to paint corridors at Pholosong. In August, Kgang Tswelopele was paid R498 450 to install vinyl floors at Far East Rand Hospital.

This week, Jwaga denied being involved in any sport facility project, saying he did not know of a company called Kgang Tswelopele.

He also denied organising a music concert at Pholosong, saying: “I didn’t do a music concert; I did a closing function and acknowledgement of employees.”

On the other maintenance contracts he received, Jwaga said: “I was happy with the jobs (I did) and did them according to the specifications.”

Kgang Tswelopele director Mandla Makhubela said the football pitch was completed in September but his company had not done the markings on it yet. He added that, as far as he knew, he was the only contractor for the football pitch. He knew nothing about split projects.

Meanwhile, acting chief executive Makgana has kept on Paul Moutloatse – husband of Mthunzi’s personal assistant Rhulani Moutloatse – as a food aid worker at Pholosong, after a quashed misconduct charge by Gauteng’s Health Department against Mthunzi for alleged nepotism in hiring him.

Mthunzi was suspended in August after the start of investigations by the Hawks and Special Investigating Unit into his role in alleged fraud and corruption to the tune of R850m at Tembisa Hospital. The suspension was initiated by former Gauteng Premier David Makhura.

Last month, Makhura’s successor, Panyaza Lesufi, released findings of the preliminary SIU report, which Lesufi said found there was a forensic report into Tembisa corruption compiled by slain whistle-blower and former Gauteng health official Babita Deokaran, who was killed in August 2021 after her investigation into hospital corruption.

“We must take this opportunity to state we are doing this to honour Babita’s legacy. We are doing this to fulfil our commitment that her death will not be in

Health Department spokesperson Motalatale Modiba, responding to whether the province would widen the probe to include facilities other than Tembisa, referred to Lesufi’s address last month, in which he said the province supported the SIU’s presidential proclamation application.

“Once approved, the SIU will increase its scope to include the freezing of assets, among other things,” Lesufi said last month.

On whether the department was aware of the same management team being used by Mthunzi at three hospitals, Modiba said it had probed all transfers and directed the rescinding of irregular ones.

“In addition, consequence management will follow on all irregular appointments. The department is currently implementing internal controls at all institutions to curb similar incidents,” Modiba said, responding to questions about issuing contracts under R500 000.

“Where there are similar irregularities in other institutions, the department will not hesitate to take appropriate disciplinary action.”

 

Mail & Guardian article – Gospel star Xolani Jwaga ‘scored from hospital graft’ (Open access

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

Gauteng Health looting and corruption rot ’runs deep’ – nurse activist

 

Tribunal upholds ‘grossly negligent’ ruling against Tembisa Hospital CEO and staff

 

Tembisa Hospital corruption ‘well-orchestrated’ and ‘meticulously planned’

 

Sahpra to probe R850m Tembisa payments

 

 

 

 

 

Tembisa Hospital audit buried for a year and recommendations ignore

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