Less than a week after the North West head of health returned to office after arbitration nullified his special leave, Dr Andrew Thabo Lekalakala has been placed on precautionary suspension.
Former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo suspended Lekalakala in April over a contract given to Gupta-linked healthcare company Mediosa.
Mediosa, which also paid for Lekalakala's junket to India in 2017, was allegedly awarded a R30m, three-year contract by the health department in advance and without it going out to tender.
Mahumapelo at the time had instituted forensic investigations into the health department following allegations against Lekalakala regarding the Mediosa contract.
Provincial health spokesperson Tebogo Lekgethwane said after the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration nullified Lekalakala's special leave, the head of department returned to work on Monday.
He was given notice of his precautionary suspension two days later.
“The precautionary suspension is based on the nature and seriousness of allegations levelled against him as well as the ongoing disciplinary hearing which is scheduled for 11 and 12 December,” Lekgethwane said.
“Dr Lekalakala is facing allegations of procurement irregularities and misrepresentation. The precautionary suspension is also necessitated by a need to avoid possible interference with disciplinary processes and service delivery.”
Lekgethwane said staff at the department’s provincial office were informed of Lekalakala’s return to work on Monday.
During a meeting, the employees said his suspension had been one of their key demands following the allegations. Staff responded by not reporting for duty, Lekgethwane confirmed.
After Lekalakala’s initial suspension ended in June, it was extended to allow the investigation to be completed.
At the time, health officials protested outside the health department's offices against Lekalakala's return.