R212m missing from East Cape health coffers

Dr Thobile Mbengashe
Dr Thobile Mbengashe

Millions intended to be spent on the health needs of Eastern Cape residents have gone missing from departmental coffers‚ with employees failing to disclose company interests in 19 tenders worth more than R10.5-million.

In a further bombshell‚ the provincial health department’s superintendent-general‚ Dr Thobile Mbengashe‚ told a watchdog committee in Bhisho on Thursday that other cases relating to irregular expenditure of R376.8-million in “medico-legal” cases had been referred to the state attorney “to determine criminal liability of officials within the department”.

Mbengashe was on the carpet before the Bhisho legislature’s public finance watchdog‚ the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) chaired by United Democratic Movement MPL Max Mhlathi.

Mbengashe was grilled over the reckless spending of state funds.

Scopa heard that an amount of R212-million‚ which includes the R10.5-million‚ had been spent irregularly in the 2015-16 financial year.

Of this R212-million‚ R30-million had been fruitless and wasteful expenditure incurred in 219 cases of interest having to be paid on overdue invoices‚ some for unpaid medical legal claims.

Mhlathi said there was a very thin line between these expenditures and corruption.

The 19 tenders were awarded to companies with close ties to some of the department’s employees‚ who failed to declare their business interests.

Mbengashe said the prevalence of irregular expenditure in his department was a concern that they were dealing with the matter.

He told the multi-party committee the irregular expenditure was as a result of 244 cases where employees had failed to:

l Adhere to procurement policies;

l Declare their business interests; and

l Complete bidding documentation in the department’s construction projects.

Also contributing to the irregular expenditure‚ were two cases where R25.5-million was awarded to Intersite Property C without any competitive bidding processes being followed.

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