Ex-HoD to sue Health Dept

2008-05-13 00:00

Dr Busi Nyembezi, the former head of the KZN Health Department who resigned and walked off with a golden handshake after more than six months’ suspension, will be going to court to clear her name.

In a statement released yesterday, Nyembezi said there has been a relentless campaign to discredit her and impugn her reputation by certain senior Health personnel since August 2007.

“The people of this province and this country deserve to know the truth, which is why I will be taking the matter to court to separate fact from fiction once and for all. People must have the courage of their convictions and say these things in a court of law where they have to substantiate and provide evidence for the things they say.”

She says the campaign started with “erroneous and defamatory stories” about her having defrauded the department of more than R15 million.

“This story, of course, was printed with different variations for about six weeks between August and October 2007. What will be important is for the court to determine whether or not I defrauded the department, and if so, when and how did I perpetuate such fraud,” she added.

According to Nyembezi, three senior officials in the department were suspended at the beginning of November 2007 for allegedly having made available to the media an invoice relating to a disputed ultrasound machine.

“Of course this was baseless, because when the invoice eventually surfaced, it was not from any of these three people, yet they are still at home on suspension and on full pay.

“What is astounding is that at a meeting they were called into by the MEC, they were informed that the reason for their suspension was not the invoice, but the fact that they were friends with the enemy of the department! That enemy, of course, was implied to be myself …

“There are other officials within the department whose lives are being made unbearable for supposedly being ‘close’ to Dr Nyembezi. Some of them have had their functions taken away making them in essence redundant, which of course is constructive dismissal.”

Nyembezi believes that the people in the department who are behind the media campaign to discredit her may be the same people who:

“• initiated the campaign in August 2007;

“• went to the Commercial Crime Unit requesting that I be investigated for corruption;

“• fed the Strauss Daly team with distorted facts (which by the way were never verified);

“• went to open a case of theft of the ultrasound machine at Loop Street in January 2008;

“• are behind the investigation on staff low morale”.

Nyembezi believes the motive of this investigation is to show how negatively she affected staff morale.

“What is puzzling me is the zeal with which they are pursuing me, even after my exit from the department,” she wrote.

Health Department spokesman Leon Mbangwa said he sympathises with Nyembezi’s position and added that it is her Constitutional right to go to court.

He warned, however, that she must be careful of rumour-mongering. He said that since her resignation, the department has moved on and not everything that is going on has to do with her.

nalini@witness.co.za

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