Slain Gauteng health dept official 'uncovered corruption, stopped payments of irregular contracts'

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Babita Deokaran.
Babita Deokaran.
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The Gauteng health department's acting chief financial officer, Babita Deokaran, had uncovered corruption and stopped payments of irregular contracts, including in hospitals, before her murder this week.

This is according to the province's premier, David Makhura, who paid tribute to Deokaran, 53, who was shot outside her home on Monday.

She died in hospital several hours after the shooting.

Makhura visited her family on Tuesday.

Deokaran was appointed to her position in August 2020 in the wake of the irregular and unlawful PPE procurement that rocked Gauteng, said Makhura.

READ | Gauteng health official who was witness in PPE corruption case killed

"She took to heart the call to bring perpetrators of corruption and looting of public resources to book," Makhura said.

"As a result of her conscientious and courageous leadership, Ms Deokaran provided crucial evidence to the disciplinary processes conducted by the Office of the Premier and the SIU investigations."

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) had earlier revealed Deokaran was a witness in one of the SIU's investigations into corruption in the awarding of tenders for personal protective equipment (PPE).

The SIU said there was, as yet, no link between the shooting and Deokaran's involvement in its investigation as a witness.

Makhura said Deokaran's work led to successful dismissals within the department and saw the institution of civil claims to recover public funds from businesses and government officials responsible for malfeasance and corruption. 

"On behalf of the provincial government, I wish to extend my heartfelt condolences to the Deokaran family and her colleagues in the Gauteng Department of Health.

"In honour of Babita Deokaran, we will do everything in our power to ensure that the perpetrators of corrupt tender processes and the callous killing of officials face the full might of the law," the premier said.

"We will not be cowed down by criminal gangs who want to loot state resources. We are taking steps to protect officials who have become targets of threats, intimidation and wanton murder."

A dedicated SAPS Provincial Task Team has been established to hunt down her killer/s.

Police said the motive for the incident was unknown and no arrests had yet been made.

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