Eastern Cape nurses sentenced over drugs

2012-06-29 18:14

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Johannesburg - Twelve nurses were sentenced to ten years' imprisonment or hefty fines for fraud in the Mthatha Regional Court on Friday, the Eastern Cape health department said.

Spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said the nurses were convicted of charges related to fraud after R950 000 worth of medication, including valium, was stolen or misappropriated from the Mthatha General Hospital's casualty ward.

The medication went missing over a three-month period in 2010.

The nurses were ordered to pay back R80 000 each to the department within 10 years.

They would remain in custody until they raised R20 000 each towards a fine.

Kupelo said the nurses used fictitious names, or the names of deceased patients, to claim the drugs from the hospital's dispensary.

They claimed "pressure and under-staffing" had led them to take the medicine under false pretences.

More nurses, managers and matrons from the same hospital were expected to be arrested soon for similar crimes and investigations would be extended to hospitals in Port Elizabeth and East London.

Kupelo said the department felt vindicated by the sentences the nurses received.

The department had allocated millions of rand to purchasing medicine, but had still been confronted with shortages at clinics and hospitals.

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