Two top KZN Health officials suspended

2013-11-27 00:00

TWO top officials of the KwaZulu-Natal Health Department have been suspended on full pay after allegations of serious misconduct were levelled against them.

Chief finance officer Mashaka Ravhura and supply chain manager Andile Zondo were informed of their suspension on Monday after department head Sbongile Zungu notified MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo of her decision to suspend them.

Announcing the suspensions at the KZN Legislature in Pietermaritzburg yesterday, Dhlomo said he was advised by Zungu that serious allegations of misconduct have been levelled against the two officials.

He said they had been suspended with immediate effect to ensure that investigations are “conducted freely without any interference”.

Disciplinary inquiries may take place, he added.

Dhlomo said an independent firm of investigators would be appointed to conduct a forensic investigation to prove or disprove the validity of the allegations.

Once the investigation was completed, a decision would then be taken on whether to charge the two officials.

“We suspend, investigate and then decide to lay charges or not,” he said.

“When she [Zungu] actually explained this, I said ‘I support you, go ahead’,” he said.

However, Dhlomo was tight-lipped about the nature of the alleged serious misconduct and when it was committed, despite his department inviting the media to the “important announcement”.

The MEC insisted that no details would be provided on the allegations levelled against the officials and only hinted that the irregularities were committed less than a year ago.

One of the officials has been employed by the department for a year and the other for seven years.

Despite Dhlomo refusing to elaborate on the allegations, The Witness understands that the suspensions allegedly relate to irregularities in the awarding of a R57 million medical waste tender in June.

Contacted by The Witness, Zondo said she had not been served with a suspension letter, before adding that she was in an “awkward place” and hanging up.

Ravhura could not be reached for comment and his cellphone was answered by a woman who said she did not know him.

Health portfolio committee chairperson Maggie Govender supported the suspensions, saying the department has been bedevilled by problematic contracts and tender processes.

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