- Prof Ebrahim Variava was placed on precautionary suspension by the NW dept of health.
- Department cited "serious allegations" against him as reasons behind the move.
- Prof Variava hopes that the matter can be resolved amicably.
The North West Department of Health has decided to set the record straight on the precautionary suspension of one of its employees, Professor Ebrahim Variava, amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The North West Department of Health has noted with concerns reaction of some members of the health profession and some speculations on public platforms regarding the precautionary suspension of Professor Ebrahim Variava. The department wishes to set the record straight on this matter," spokesperson Tebogo Lekgethwane said in a statement on Monday.
This comes after the department suspended Variava on Friday, citing "serious allegations" against him.
According to the department, a precautionary suspension is purely intended to ensure the integrity of an investigation.
It said this was to ensure that internal investigations can take place without prejudice or interference, and that the principles of justice and the rule of law are upheld in the interests of all parties involved in cases of suspected misconduct.
"Thus, Prof Variava was placed on precautionary suspension in order to protect the rights of all parties affected. An internal investigation will take place, as quickly as is practical.
"No prejudice to the rights of Prof Variava arose from his precautionary suspension. In cases where misconduct is suspected, it is right and proper that these are properly investigated, without interference," Lekgethwane explained.
The department also states that Variava is not the lead physician on Covid-19 in the province.
"The NWDoH is, however, well aware of the contribution Prof Variava has made/makes to the work of the department, and of the structures and professionals within the NWDoH who collaboratively ensure that the right to healthcare is upheld within the province.
"However, while employees may be exemplary in some regards, and be acknowledged and lauded for it, they may fall short of expected standards in other regards. Where the latter occurs, the employee should be held to account," Lekgethwane said.
The department further added that Variava and any other employee on precautionary suspension and/or under investigation remains innocent until proven otherwise.
Variava's attorney, Imraan Haffegee, told News24 on Tuesday that they remain hopeful that the matter will be resolved amicably, however "precautionary suspensions can and do cause prejudices".
"Prof Variava's suspension has denied him his right to work and specifically so during an unprecedented health crises.
"We believe the suspension is wrong and unfair. The reasons given to Prof Variava are vague, unfounded and, most importantly, completely different to those expressed in the public domain," Haffegee explained.
The professor, however, still remains optimistic that he will allowed to return to work quickly so that everyone concerned can focus on the health crisis and address other issues cooperatively.