Medical waste is in a mess

2016-01-15 11:00
Daymed housekeeping supervisor Eleanore Landers, maintenance manager Dickson Anafi and hospital manager Roy Sookraj inspect the waste found at World’s View plantations.

Daymed housekeeping supervisor Eleanore Landers, maintenance manager Dickson Anafi and hospital manager Roy Sookraj inspect the waste found at World’s View plantations. (Chelsea Pieterse, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - The Democratic Alliance believes the KZN medical waste sector may be rotting in corruption and has likened the industry to a “mafia operation”.

DA spokesperson on health Dr Wilmot James released a statement this week that claims that the KZN Department of Health is spending R100 million a year on medical waste removal but the sole contractor providing medical waste disposal in the province has a contract value of only R53 million.

James’s unravelling of the provincial coffers is part of a nationwide campaign he is leading in cleaning up the industry.

“I am writing to the Auditor-General [A-G] to investigate why it is that the National Department of Health (DoH) declared that, in the 2013/2014 financial year, provinces, excluding the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga, spent R437 million on the removal of medical waste and yet, it was recently learnt from medical waste removal business insiders, that they were paid R328 million – R109 million less – for their services,” said James.

He said “KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape” are the worst transgressors.

“The department has revealed through parliamentary questioning that there is only one medical waste provider in KZN. That is Compass Waste [based in Westville]. However, when I asked them what they were paid in the same accounting period and compared it to what the state says they are paying, there is a massive shortfall of R47 million,” said James.

He said the industry operated like the “mafia” and would need extensive probing by authorities.

He said he would be “visiting” the province shortly and include it in his province-by-province tour to tackle corruption within the sector.

Compass Waste owner Ian du Randt said while he would wait for further investigation into the discrepancy flagged by the DA, he said corruption was “common place” in the medical waste sector. Du Randt confirmed they were paid R53 million for services provided in the 2013/2014 financial year.

“Supply chain rules are not always adhered to and often when irregular awards are legally challenged there is a lack of respect for the judicial process and in some cases, judges’ orders are blatantly ignored or circumvented,” said Du Randt.

He said KZN is the main medical waste generator, due to population density, followed by Gauteng, Western Cape and Eastern Cape.

“We believe [collusion and corruption] is a national problem and are concerned that it may get out of control. Ideally, it should be addressed head on with a zero tolerance approach,” said Du Randt.

The KZN Health Department was unable to respond at the time of going to print.

In 2013 the Department of Environmental Affairs, tasked with overseeing that the companies involved adhere to environmental protocol, likened the industry to “organised crime”, claiming tender corruption, greed and “fierce competition” was rife in the industry, valued in excess of R500 million.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  medical waste

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