Independent investigator to probe claims relating to Babita Deokaran murder

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Gauteng Premier David Makhura
Gauteng Premier David Makhura
Picture Felix Dlangamandla
  • An independent forensic investigator will be appointed to probe allegations against officials relating to murdered whistleblower Babita Deokaran.
  • Gauteng Premier David Makhura says his office is "finalising the process" of appointing the investigator.
  • His announcement followed News24 investigations, which revealed that R850 million in alleged corrupt and fraudulent contracts were identified by Deokaran before her murder.

The Gauteng government will appoint an independent forensic investigator to probe allegations relating to murdered Department of Health whistleblower Babita Deokaran.

The announcement by Gauteng Premier David Makhura came on the back of News24 investigations, which revealed that more than R800 million in alleged corrupt and fraudulent contracts were identified and escalated by Deokaran.

Deokaran had been a critical witness for the Special Investigating Unit. News24 previously reported that she had provided evidence in more than 100 investigations relating to corruption within the Gauteng health department.

She was assassinated in a hit-style killing outside her home in southern Johannesburg in August 2021.

SPECIAL PROJECT | Silenced: Why Babita Deokaran was murdered

Gauteng Premier David Makhura said his office was "finalising the process" of appointing an investigator to look into "allegations that have surfaced relating to the case".

"Labour matters relating to officials implicated in this matter have been referred to the Head of the Department of Health, Gauteng, to deal with them as per the Public Service Act (PSA) and Public Finance Management Act (PFMA)," he said.

In recent weeks, several hard-hitting News24 investigations revealed the scope of alleged corruption in the provincial health system, which had been uncovered by Deokaran before her death. News24 also revealed how her pleas for protection fell on deaf ears in the health department.

News24 revealed that provincial health department boss Lerato Madyo failed to act on a plea by Deokaran three weeks before she was murdered. Deokaran had requested that R850 million in dubious payments out of Tembisa Hospital be investigated.

"While we are committed to ensuring that decisive action is taken against public servants that have been found to have failed in discharging their responsibilities in line with the PFMA, we need to ensure that our actions are in line with the PSA and other applicable prescripts," Makhura said.

Makhura added that the provincial government was strengthening its control systems to prevent fraud and corruption, as well as improving its capacity to act on such allegations.

DA spokesperson Jack Bloom said the probe was a "belated response".

"It has taken three weeks for the premier to react to the explosive revelation of the News24 investigation that Babita feared for her life after she tried to stop 'possibly fraudulent' payments by the Tembisa Hospital," said Bloom.

"Even more damning, why is a forensic investigation only being done a full year after she was murdered?" Blood added.

Bloom has called for the suspension of Madyo and Tembisa Hospital CEO Ashley Mthunzi, adding that the "provincial government is notorious for long-running investigations which are never made public".

"I suspect this investigation will be used to squash embarrassing questions in the legislature on the spurious grounds that they are sub judice. They will keep a lid on any information that shows senior ANC officials benefitted from the Tembisa Hospital payments," Bloom added.

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