R250m hos­pi­tal ten­der haunts premier’s new top ap­pointees

CityPress - - News - SETUMO STONE setumo.stone@city­press.co.za

North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo is un­der pres­sure to ex­plain the em­ploy­ment of his most se­nior civil ser­vant, the di­rec­tor-gen­eral, and another se­nior of­fi­cial de­spite their al­leged in­volve­ment in a ten­der storm that has cost the North West gov­ern­ment as much as R250 mil­lion.

North West pro­vin­cial di­rec­tor-gen­eral Dr Ly­dia Se­bego and act­ing head of the pro­vin­cial public works depart­ment Vuyo Mbu­lawa say their hands are clean, but the two could still face pos­si­ble fraud and cor­rup­tion charges for their role in the ten­der. The two started in their new top po­si­tions last month. A foren­sic re­port by au­dit firm SizweNt­salubaGo­bodo that City Press ob­tained this week shows that, dur­ing his pre­vi­ous term as chief di­rec­tor of cor­po­rate ser­vices – at the pro­vin­cial health depart­ment – Mbu­lawa signed off on mul­ti­mil­lion-rand pay­ments for med­i­cal equip­ment that was not quoted on, but was pur­chased – and yet not de­liv­ered.

Se­bego was then the head of the health depart­ment.

The SizweNt­salubaGo­bodo re­port, con­cluded in Oc­to­ber 2012, led to a fraud and cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Hawks in 2013. City Press heard this week the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was con­cluded and await­ing a de­ci­sion from the Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity (NPA) on whether to pros­e­cute.

North West NPA spokesper­son Frank Le­senyego said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was fi­nalised in April this year, but “we are still await­ing some fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion, where­after a fi­nal de­ci­sion will be made”.

Mbu­lawa and Se­bego told City Press nei­ther SizweNt­salubaGo­bodo nor the Hawks had sought their side of the story since the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was com­mis­sioned in 2011 to look into al­leged ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in the pro­cure­ment of X-ray ma­chines and scan­ners for a re­gional hos­pi­tal in Vry­burg and a dis­trict hos­pi­tal in Ledig.

The SizweNt­salubaGo­bodo re­port re­vealed that the ex­pen­sive X-ray ma­chines that had not been quoted on were paid for but not yet de­liv­ered. Other ma­chines that were bought did not have the nec­es­sary li­cences – and could ex­pose pa­tients to dan­ger.

Pay­ments were claimed with­out ev­i­dence of in­voices sub­mit­ted.

Mbu­lawa main­tained: “I have never been in­ter­viewed. I have never been favoured with a draft copy of the re­port fol­low­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“My side of the story must be heard so that I can also as­sist the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and pro­vide in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing doc­u­ments, that can close the gaps in the re­port.”

Se­bego said she was not aware of any in­ves­ti­ga­tion into her ac­tiv­i­ties. She said that when she was ap­pointed di­rec­tor-gen­eral in July, the of­fice of the premier had checked whether she had a crim­i­nal case pend­ing, and noth­ing was re­vealed.

Premier Mahumapelo’s po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents have ques­tioned his de­ci­sion to keep the two of­fi­cials in the em­ploy of the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment – at se­nior man­age­ment level – de­spite the crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion against them.

Supra Mahumapelo

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