FRAUD and corruption by officials and service providers have cost the Eastern Cape health department at least R45 million in the past few years, it said today (March, 07).
A recent investigation by Price Waterhouse Coopers revealed that the fraud and corruption was related to contracts and tenders, said department spokesman Sizwe Kupelo.
“The investigation revealed firstly that there was fraud and corruption totalling R13 million for an air ambulance contract,” he said.
An amount of R14m meant for the maintenance of medical facilities and new building activities was also lost.
“We also have an amount of R18 million related to tender procurement, where at least eight officials would allegedly award tenders to their own companies.”
Kupelo said 35 companies were believed to have profited.
The investigation started last year and involved activities spanning a few financial years.
“All cases have been referred to the police and the officials involved have either been suspended or resigned,” he said.
Eastern Cape health MEC Sicelo Gqobana had also ordered a forensic investigation into the Port Elizabeth medical depot responsible for the distribution of drugs to the province’s health facilities.
This, after he was informed of corruption at the depot which led to delays in the distribution of drugs and an overall shortage of medication and hospitals and clinics.
“Courier companies contracted to distribute medication were [reportedly] responsible… as they would collect deliveries or orders from the depot and keep the orders in their own depots,” Kupelo said.
“As a result, depot staff were inundated with calls about orders that had already been dispatched,” he said.
Kupelo said depot staff alleged that courier companies were delivering drugs meant for other health facilities to hospitals and clinics that had not placed an order.
Facilities that had placed orders would often receive incomplete orders as a result.