SIU to probe national lab after R250m ‘lost to graft’

Date: 15 Mar 2019

Ramaphosa moves to have money allegedly looted in a dozen tenders recovered

PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa wants all the money that was illegally looted in the awarding of tenders at the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) to be recovered by investigating agencies.

Yesterday, Ramaphosa ordered the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to probe corruption at the NHLS.

It has been reported that more than R250million was lost due to alleged corruption, and some of NHLS’s top officials were suspended.

Now the president wants the SIU to get to the bottom of malfeasance in multiple tenders at the health laboratory and recoup the cash.

“The allegations of wrongdoing pertain to the period between July 1, 2015 and the present. In a proclamation in terms of the SIU and Special Tribunals Act of 1996, the president has directed that the allegations be investigated and that civil proceedings emanating from such investigation be adjudicated upon,” said Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko.

The NHLS provides health and laboratory services to more than 80% of the population.

A month ago, Ramaphosa established the Special Tribunal, led by Judge Gidfonia Mlindelwa Makhanya, to hear civil cases brought by the SIU.

The Special Tribunal would allow the SIU to fast-track civil claims against people found to have been involved in corruption in the cases it was investigating. The SIU has in the past probed cases involving various government departments and agencies amounting to hundreds of millions of rand.

However, the process to recover stolen money is long because of the delays in the high courts.

Ramaphosa had said the Special Tribunal would allow for the speedy recovery of the money from those who were involved in wrongdoing.

In his proclamation to the SIU, he wants the unit to investigate more than a dozen tenders from the NHLS and related entities in the past four years. This includes tenders at Charlotte Maxeke Academic hospital in Joburg in connection with the renovation of the virology unit.

The SIU would also probe the awarding of tenders at the Centre for Respiratory Diseases and Meningitis.

The renovation contracts at the Diagnostic Media Products building would also be probed.

Another renovation contract at the Ermelo laboratory would be investigated by the SIU. There was a renovation tender for toilets at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases that would also be investigated.

Diko said the president wanted all the officials and companies involved in irregularities to face the full probe by the SIU.

By Siyabonga Mkhwanazi – siyabonga.mkhwanazi@inl.co.za

 

 

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