Health confirms hospital probes

2008-07-10 00:00

KwaZulu-Natal Health Department spokesman Leon Mbangwa has confirmed that "serious investigations" into alleged financial irregularities at Fort Napier Hospital are underway.

The Witness sent him questions last week regarding allegations of corruption and misappropriation of over R30 000 at Fort Napier.

Mbangwa said that in order to ensure that the department has "watertight cases that will ensure that [corrupt elements] are put behind bars" there was an unforeseen delay in dealing with the questions.

"We had to contact at least four structures, namely, the district office, our labour relations department, special investigations and the area general manager’s office.

"We can now confirm that there are serious investigations underway conducted by our Special Investigations team," said Mbangwa.

"Some of the allegations in your story are new to the department and would require fresh investigations. In pursuit of justice, we cannot be expected to act against individuals until there is cause to believe that they have a case to answer."

Mbangwa said that the investigations are at "a very sensitive stage", but the public will be alerted as soon as the probes are finalised.

"We want to encourage staff to make use of the internal procedures of dealing with grievances before they alarm the public, through the media, with unproven allegations."

Regarding allegations that an HR manager authorised payment of R24 606 for herself and two other employees to go on a training course, Mbangwa confirmed that the money was paid to the Gauteng training company, but the people did not go on the course "as higher approval was not obained".

However, he said, the correct procedures were followed for another course, involving the amount of R7 995.

According to Mbangwa, there is no crisis in the institution. "We are, however, concerned with staff members who do not want to assist the department in rooting out corruption [if present] or use the internal procedures set out. We are going to seriously look into these matters and request urgent finalisation of all investigations."

Mbangwa denied receiving the questions and said The Witness wrongly implied that he failed to respond to questions sent to him. The Witness sent the questions to Chris Maxon, who reports to Mbangwa, and copied the questions to Sibonelo Msomi, also in the communications department.

sandilez@witness.co.zaw

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