Thursday, 13 June, 2024
HomeNews UpdateJuicy R500 000 Tembisa hospital chicken tender allegedly irregular

Juicy R500 000 Tembisa hospital chicken tender allegedly irregular

The ongoing Special Investigating Unit’s probe into the hundreds of dodgy payments at Tembisa Hospital has found that half a million rands was paid out for six tons of frozen chicken in a deal tainted by irregularities, false documents and price inflation.

The latest finding was one of many showing how hospital officials flouted buying processes, a key enabler for a tender mafia first identified by Gauteng Health Department’s Babita Deokaran three weeks before she was assassinated.

The officials involved in many of the dicey contracts are still at work, and some are still in charge of procurement, reports News24.

The chicken contract was awarded to an unknown company named Fairg Holdings, operating from a rundown house in suburban Benoni on the East Rand.

SIU investigators concluded that falsified and altered documents were overlooked to close the deal – with a price nearly double what it should have been.

Fairg is owned by Johannesburg businessman Paul Mokoena, who is an active director of 10 companies, four of which were identified by Deokaran who had reported a list of “possibly fraudulent suppliers” less than two weeks before she was murdered.

News24 found evidence that these companies sold medical equipment without a licence, which is a criminal offence.

One spicy chicken tender

On 25 May 2021, five hospital staff in the quotation adjudication committee – supposed to be a check and balance against fraud and irregular expenditure – rubber-stamped the chicken deal.

The purchase order had five line items of various cuts of frozen chicken in 1kg packs, in uniform quantity, and each with the same value of R99 000.

Tembisa Hospital sought three quotes and awarded the deal to Fairg as the cheapest, meaning the two losing bidders had also inflated prices, raising the possibility of, at best, wide-scale price gouging and at worst, collusion.

Fowl irregularities

Examining the bid documents of all three entities, the SIU found a litany of red flags. Winning bidder Fairg had eight discrepancies, and in terms of procurement rules, just one should trigger immediate disqualification.

“None of the winning bidders… should have been appointed as they did not meet the requirements,” the SIU report reads, adding that “these service providers should not even have been considered for adjudication”.

Investigators established that Mokoena, through Fairg, provided false information “and in doing so (has) possibly committed fraud”, and referred his matter to the National Prosecuting Authority.

Mokoena denied he had inflated prices, and said it “would be erroneous [for News24] to labour under that impression”.

While the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) said the companies which sold medical equipment did not hold licences, Mokoena said he had an “umbrella licence” and was covered.

Sahpra spokesperson Yuven Gounden said: “There is no such thing as an umbrella licence.”

Buck stops with hospital boss 

A day after the deal was pushed through by Tembisa’s procurement division it was approved by Tembisa Hospital CEO Ashley Mthunzi, who was placed on precautionary suspension for his role in the scandal last year.

When News24 first approached Gauteng Health with allegations of procurement irregularities, it said the deals were struck before Mthunzi took up his position.

In fact, the SIU found that he signed off on at least 13 contracts which should never have been concluded, and recommended he face disciplinary action as he had “failed in his duties”.

Moreover, the SIU said 11 hospital officials should be departmentally charged.

Responding to questions, the department said half of this network were still in their posts, some in the procurement section.

“Four have since resigned, one is retired and six are still actively employed. These include supply chain management practitioners, nursing staff and clinical staff,” it said. “The department is currently busy with processing the SIU forensic report and …collecting more data to enable effective disciplinary action, where merited.”

Not yet charged 

Mthunzi, as well as Gauteng Health Department CFO Lerato Madyo, have been on paid suspension for six months.

According to Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi's spokesperson Vuyo Mhaga, neither had yet been charged with misconduct and a hearing would be held before the end of February.

The SIU, supported by Lesufi, was to motivate for a presidential proclamation for a broad scale investigation.  Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said that no such motivation had been received, but that President Cyril Ramaphosa would sign it without hesitation if the motivation were sound.

 

News24 article – SILENCED | Tembisa Hospital's R500 000 chicken tender, and how the inside men feathered the nest (Restricted access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

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

 

ANC bigwigs score millions from Tembisa Hospital

 

Tembisa Hospital CFO and Gauteng Health boss suspended as SIU begins probe

 

Uncovering the 200 suspicious Tembisa Hospital contracts flagged by Deokara

 

 

 

 

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