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04 Feb 2013

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Port Elizabeth - A forensic audit of the Eastern Cape health department has revealed " devastating"  large-scale graft and nepotism.

A total of 544 department workers were suspected to be ghost employees, after it was determined they had invalid identity numbers, the department said in a statement on Sunday.

A total of 8 034 employees were directors of active companies and 929 were listed as suppliers for the health department.

Of the 8 034 staff members, 235 had received payment of R42.8m from the department.

Payments made to employees included R7.3m for providing medical support personnel, R4m and R3.5m for engineering support staff, and R3.8m for an emergency services member.

The department said there were cases of 35 spouses of employees doing business with it, and linked to 35 companies which received payments of R11m.

There were also procurement irregularities in supplier invoices.

Forensic investigation

The findings formed part of a forensic investigation commissioned by Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet and health MEC Sicelo Gqobana.

The investigation was carried out by the Special Investigating Union (SIU), the SA Revenue Service, Asset Forfeiture Unit and Eastern Cape health department.

" There are also a host of cases where procurement irregularities are rife in the manipulation of payments to avoid policy, payments made without invoices and duplicate payments,"  the department said.

The objective of the probe was to identify irregular expenditure, illegal contracts, tax transgressions, and recover losses.

" This preliminary report by the SIU and partners shows that the department is committed to clean governance and will root out corruption as it stifles service delivery,"  the department said.

The SIU is currently investigation alleged manipulation of procurement processes at the East London emergency services
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