Head of KZN Health resigns

2008-04-09 00:00

SUSPENDED head of the KZN Health Department Dr Busi Nyembezi resigned yesterday, the same day that the Scorpions confirmed that they are investigating the department.

Premier S’bu Ndebele said in a statement yesterday evening that Nyembezi agreed voluntarily to step down with immediate effect.

KZN director-general Dr Kwazi Mbanjwa denied that her resignation has anything to with the Scorpions’ raid on her office last Friday or with with any allegations of corruption.

He said Nyembezi’s suspension is wholly the result of a breakdown in relations between her and Health MEC Peggy Nkonyeni.

The premier appointed lawyers from Strauss Daly last year to probe the reported breakdown and it was later concluded that their relationship is irretrievable.

The premier said the Strauss Daly team is not investigating allegations of corruption, and attributed the allegations to media leaks. “Regrettably, these also sought to cast aspersions on Dr Nyembezi’s character and dignity,” he said.

He decided to discuss the affair with Nyembezi because of his concern for the state of such an important department and the toll on those involved.

Nyembezi, who was suspended more than six months ago, was alleged to be involved in a R15 million-plus tender scam. She never received a copy of the Strauss Daly report.

At a press conference last month, she vowed to clear her name and threatened to take the premier to court for a copy of the report.

She said at the time: “As a professional, the only capital I have is my name. I have worked many years to get that name, so I will fight to clear my name.”

She told The Witness earlier this week that she had not lodged papers because a representative of the premier’s office had approached her to discuss the matter.

City Press had reported that the department charged her with the theft of a cancer-scanning machine and that her lawyer handed the keys to her office to the Scorpions.

The newspaper alleged that it was Nyembezi who asked the Scorpions to investigate Nkonyeni and three senior health officials over the procurement of the machine. Nyembezi denied this and the theft charges.

Scorpions spokesman Tlali Tlali confirmed that an investigation involving the department has been authorised for the Department of Sepcial Operations.

“We conducted a search-and- seizure operation at the premises of the department. The [scanning] machine was consequently seized on the strength of the search warrant.

“We will make other details available when we are in a position to do so,” he said.

When contacted last night, Nyembezi said she is not making any statements to the media and has left such statements to the Premier’s office to handle.

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