SIU's work in the Health Sector Anti-Corruption Forum reaps big reward

Cyril Ramaphosa at the launch of the Health Sector Anti-Corruption Forum in Pretoria. (Image via Twitter)
Cyril Ramaphosa at the launch of the Health Sector Anti-Corruption Forum in Pretoria. (Image via Twitter)

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has arrested an attorney in the Eastern Cape on charges relating to fraudulent medico-legal claims to the tune of more than R100m.

Deputy Minister of Justice John Jeffery reported to the Health Sector Anti-Corruption Forum the SIU had also successfully prevented another payment of R39m to the attorney who is currently out on bail.

The spokesperson for the Presidency, Khusela Diko, said in a statement the SUI had "identified another 13 matters to the value of R53m in Gauteng relating to the same attorney".

The SIU, Council for Medical Schemes, Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, Health Funders Association, Health Professions Council of South Africa and others make up the forum.

The forum aims to combat corruption and maladministration in the healthcare sector and was launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday.

It comes as a result of the first presidential health summit that was held last year.

"The summit identified corruption as a challenge that undermined health care in the public and private sectors and took the form of, among other manifestations, fraudulent claims, pharmaceutical companies inflating prices and over-billing by service providers," Diko said.

The SUI, he added, was continuing investigations into collusion between people who were suing public hospitals for malpractice and state attorneys who settled cases that have no merit or deliberately lose cases.

"Advocate Andy Mothibi, the head of the Special Investigating Unit, reported that fraud, waste and abuse in health care totalled R39bn a year with risks arising in supply chain processes, including medical products, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment," Diko said.

Addressing the forum at its launch on Tuesday, Mothibi said the SUI was also investigating procurement and purchasing irregularities, registration and accreditation irregularities, fraudulent claims as well as over-pricing of services and products.

National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi also highlighted investigations currently underway in KwaZulu-Natal, the Northern Cape, Free State, North West, Gauteng and Limpopo.

Prosecutions arising from these cases would be prioritised by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), according to a memorandum of understanding between the NPA and SIU.

"Advocate Batohi said the NPA would use an additional budget allocation to recruit prosecutors in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit and to build capacity in the Asset Forfeiture Unit," Diko said.

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