North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo has suspended the health department's HOD, Dr Andrew Thabo Lekalakala, 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.
The decision was taken on Thursday morning, Mahumapelo's spokesperson Brian Setswambung confirmed to News24.
According to Setswambung, Mahumapelo had instituted forensic investigations in the Department of Health following allegations that were made against Dr Lekalakala regarding the Mediosa contract.
"The forensic investigators have given the MEC for Finance and Economic Development a preliminary report, and based on this report Mahumapelo has suspended Dr Lekalakala whilst the disciplinary proceedings against Lekalakala commence," Setswambung said.
The Department of Health's spokesperson, Tebogo Lekgethwane, told News24 he was not aware of the suspension.
"As far as I know, at this stage [the HOD] is on precautionary leave. If it is a suspension, we don't know about it. We have not been made aware."
However, the department's acting HOD Vuyo Mbulawa later told News24 that both he and Health MEC Dr Magome Masike were indeed aware of the suspension.
Earlier this year, on February 21, the North West legislature laid criminal charges against the Lekalakala following a marathon interrogation over the contract which lasted until the early hours of the morning.
During the interrogation, Lekalakala admitted to the committee, that a delegation from the department was taken to India just seven days after the health group received the payment.
Committee chairperson Madoda Samabatha told News24 at the time that the HOD was facing numerous charges, which include fraud and corruption, contravening the Public Financial Management Act as well as being in contempt of the legislature.
Media reports had revealed that apart from the R30m upfront payment that the department made to Mediosa, it had also made a R180m purchase of a mobile clinic. This was before the company had done any work on for the department.
On March 2, during a walkabout at the mobile clinic site in Setlagole, at Ratlou municipality Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi called on the North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo to sack Lekalakala. He described Mediosa as an ATM used to loot from the state.
Lekalakala was subsequently placed on special leave as investigations into the matter commenced.