5 get bail in Eastern Cape fraud case
Johannesburg - Two former high ranking Eastern Cape government officials and two businessmen charged with fraud were granted bail on Monday.
"They made a brief appearance in East London [Magistrate's Court], and were not asked to plead," said provincial health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo.
They were released on bail of R5000 each and the case was postponed to April 13 for a regional court date.
The four are charged with defrauding the provincial health department of about R11m.
They are former chief director in the department Malibongwe Mtuzula, a former deputy director Akona Ngxolo, and businessmen Deon Botha and Dumisani Belman.
Their arrests followed an internal investigation, which was later handed over to the police, relating to services procured but not rendered and proper processes not being followed, said Kupelo.
A fifth person, a City of Johannesburg manager Lawrence Boya, was arrested on Friday and had already appeared in the Specialised Commercial Crime Court, Kupelo said.
Boya, a former superintendent general in the Eastern Cape health department, would appear again in the Zwelitsha Magistrate's Court on April 12.
The charges against the five would be fraud and corruption totalling R11.8m, Kupelo said.
The arrests arose from a series of investigations into corruption and fraud in the Eastern Cape.
The overall amount involved was R14m, but the charges against the five related to the R11.8m.
The procurement was for business plans.
Kupelo said the intention was to join the cases into one in Zwelitsha, where the crimes were committed.
In a separate investigation, officials are working on the non-delivery of R11m worth of hospital equipment that was procured, but not delivered.
"A few other officials are being investigated for that," said Kupelo.
The department had also given the police information on a probe into a R13m ambulance contract.
"We welcome the arrests and we want to say to all officials - ex and current - that fraud and corruption will never be tolerated by the department.
"We cannot afford a situation where money supposed to assist our people is lost -- we cannot afford to lose one cent."
In September, 42 staff members in the province's health department were fired for a range of offences including theft and fraud.
An investigation also showed that over 100 department officials had companies that traded with the department.
A report by the auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers found at least R45m had been lost to fraud in the health department over the past years.