Alleged corruption at Brits hospital

The Union poses a series of questions regarding broken agreements to re-deploy corrupt officials and the failure to institute the agreed-upon joint investigation into allegations tabled.

In the open letter, addressed to the Head of Department (HoD), Dr AT Lekalakala, Hospersa refers to industrial action which took place in November last year. The main reason for the protest by hospital employees at the time was alleged corrupt procurement processes by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Clinical Manager, and part of the settlement agreement was that the officials in question would be re-deployed to another institution, and that the concerns of employees would be jointly investigated by management and labour. The alleged corruption included the procurement of a CT scanner of R15 million that was never delivered to the hospital.

“However, the Union has since received reports that the embattled officials have been brazenly returned to Brits Hospital, and that the concerns of employees have not been addressed as per the earlier agreement. Hospersa registers its disappointment with the contempt shown by the department to our members, other employees and the community which is served by the hospital,” the statement read.

Hospersa also cites reports that the CEO “has resumed her prior tendencies of acting in a high-handed and intimidatory manner towards staff”, while the “concerns and questions raised by labour at the time remain unanswered”.

“It is almost unbelievable that these guys would be so openly arrogant,” said Hospersa North West Provincial Chairperson Nhlanhla Mthize. “To come and sit with us and agree to address the problems, and then go back on your word?” he asked. “How can you agree to move corrupt bosses away from the hospital and then bring them back a few months later? We thought we had a solid agreement – a good faith agreement – that our issues will be addressed, but now they show their true colours,” Mthize said.

Hospersa’s letter clearly states that this course of events seems to point to the November agreement being a devious and strategic tactic by the Department of Health to temporarily diffuse the situation and buy time.

The open letter concludes by requesting the HoD to respond to the questions posed by Hospersa in order to avoid a repeat of the protest action seen in November 2016.

In a reply to the Kormorant’s enquiry, the department said it had a meeting with HOSPERSA to hear their complaints about allegations of corruption at the hospital. “It is important to state that allegations remain allegations until proven to be correct. It is the prerogative of the department to institute an investigation after the executives have satisfied themselves with reasons for the need of such. It is therefore not true that the department is failing to act,” said Tebogo Lekgethwane, spokesperson for the department.

“We can confirm that the time when the CEO was not at the hospital was mainly because of the protests and threats to her safety. In terms of the Public Service Regulations it is unlawful to remove or re-deploy any employee from their position based on allegations without sufficient evidence. There are also due internal processes that must be followed to come to any determination relating to such allegations.” (sic)

He said the Head of the Department will attend to all administrative matters relating to the allegations.

Daleen van Manen

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