Approximately 184 Gauteng Department of Health staff members have private businesses that have dealt with government departments including their own, the Gauteng Democratic Alliance’s (DA) health spokesperson, Jack Bloom, said in a statement on Sunday.
The Gauteng Department of Health revealed these developments in an oral reply to the Gauteng legislature, in response to questions from Bloom. In the oral reply – dated September 30, 2019, and shared with News24 by the department – Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku provided more details.
His reply revealed that staff members were involved in a wide range of businesses, including medical supplies, security, funeral services, food, events, management, health and medical publishing, and emergency care.
According to the provincial health department, the 184 employees were identified through the Auditor General's report of 2018/19.
Bloom has expressed concern about staff doing business with the department, which has been the subject of "many corruption scandals".
"I am concerned that employees doing business with their own department has taken so long to uncover. This is highly irregular in a department that has suffered many corruption scandals," he said.
The most notable scandal was the Life Esidimeni tragedy – the Health Ombudsman's Professor Malegapuru Makgoba revealed in a report that numerous patients had died after being transferred from Life Healthcare Esidimeni to various NGOs across Gauteng, due to cost-cutting measures. The report also found that several human rights were violated in the process, News24 earlier reported.
The project resulted in the death of approximately 144 patients and a massive R300m in compensation being set aside for families affected by the tragedy, who passed a verification process by the Master of the High Court, News24 reported.
It is not clear how many private businesses of health employees deal exclusively with the Gauteng health department, however, Masuku has since requested the department head to provide a detailed report by October 14, 2019, which will also be forwarded to the legislature.
Masuku said the head of department was also expected to shed light on which contracts were involved, how much money was paid out to them, and whether any disciplinary action had been taken.
"I look forward to the detailed report that has been promised, which should be followed by strict discipline of staff who are caught out in this matter," Bloom said in response.