Ex Gauteng Health senior officials facing graft charges out on bail

Ex Gauteng Health senior officials facing graft charges out on bail

Four former senior government officials in the Gauteng Department of Health (GDoH) and two businessmen were granted bail by the Specialised Commercial Crime  Court in Palm Ridge on Thursday

Sybil Ngcobo, former head of department and accounting officer for the (GDoH); Mmakgosi Mosupi, former Chief Director of Information and Communications Technology; Valdis Romaano, former Director of Supply Chain Management; and Obakeng Mookeletsi, Deputy Director General, Executive Support Program Manager, appeared on charges of corruption and contravention of Public Finance Management Act.

Ngcobo is out on R8 000 bail, Mosupi, Ramaano  and Mooleletsi R25 000.

John Richard Payne and Phil Austin, and their respective companies, Ukwakha Dezign (Pty) Ltd and Life Channel Communications (Pty) Ltd, were also expected to appear alongside the four. Their warrants of arrest could not be executed as they are out of the country.

The matter relates to a 2008 tender for the provision of HIS and e – HR systems. Subject to confirmation of the funding by the Gauteng Treasury, the tender was awarded to the Baoki Consortium, which consisted of AME Africa (Pty) Ltd, Health System Technology (Pty) Ltd, AMETHST (Pty) Ltd and Equiton Investments (Pty) Ltd. 

The estimated cost for the new HIS and e-HR systems was R630 million. However, the final total value of the tender awarded to Baoki Consortium was R1 045 174 125.12.

A company called 3P Consulting (Pty) Ltd (3P) was appointed by the GDoH to manage various contracts on its behalf. A Service Level Agreement (SLA) was signed on 28 March 2008 between the GDoH and the Baoki Consortium. 

The state alleges that on 23 May 2008, Mosupi and Mr Mookeletsi, together with representatives of the Baoki Consortium (AME, HST Technology and Equiton), signed a change order to allow Baoki Consortium, through AME, to procure the services for the provision of power (generators), furniture, network, computer literacy training and catering.

The value of the change order was R13 369 693.

“The services that were procured by Baoki Consortium as a result of the May 2008 change order were not services related to the original tender listed in the RFP. The change order was supposed to be a separate tender or to be procured internally by the GDoH on a tender basis. The supplier for the furniture as stated in the change order above was Ukwakha Design (Pty) Ltd (Ukwakha).  This company was owned by Payne. This meant that the Baoki Consortium contract was managed by 3P, with Payne as one its directors. In turn, the sub-contracting company which supplied furniture, Ukwakha, was owned by Payne.
The negotiations for the HIS and e-HR rollout agreement for the GDoH was handled by 3P on its behalf.  The rollout agreement needed a signature from the Gauteng MEC for Finance to be an effective agreement which can legally bind the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) for future financial commitments.”

Despite the need for the rollout agreement to be compliant with the PFMA, 3P and the health department allegedly failed to acquire the written authorisation from the Gauteng Provincial Treasury (GPT).

On the 27th of October 2008, the GDoH was warned in writing that it could not procure the services of the Baoki Consortium due to lack of funding thus future financial commitments would be in contravention of the PFMA and would not bind the Provincial Revenue Fund. 

Despite the above warnings, Ngcobo and her two senior officials, Mosupi and Ramaano, allegedly signed the SLA on 03 November 2008.

After the signing of the rollout agreement, on 26 November 2008, Mosupi submitted a change order for the provision of Gauteng Wide Satellite Based WAN. There was subsequently a change order proposing to add services for the provision of a Gauteng Province Wide Area Network (WAN). The submission was recommended by Mookeletsi, on the 27th of November 2008. The RFP for the HIS and e-HR did not include the service of network connectivity as one of the services to be supplied or rendered.

In a motivation which was submitted by Mosupi, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) says it was recommended that the contract be awarded to TLC Africa VSAT Solution (TLC Africa).

A change order was signed on 16 January 2009 allowing Baoki to provide the service. On 12 February 2009, an SLA was then entered into and signed between Life Channel and AMETHST (a Baoki Consortium member). The contract value for the VSAT solution was R203 936 304.79. 

No competitive bids were invited by the accounting authority although the value was above R500 000.

The agreement with the Baoki Consortium was cancelled during 2009. It is alleged that Life Channel, through its director, Austin, paid for Mosupi’s family to visit London and that the trip was facilitated through 3P. 

AMETHST, member of the Baoki Consortium, is also accused of making several large deposits into a bank account in the name of Mookeletsi, totaling R300 000. Payne and Ukwakha Dezign are said to have covered the cost for the refurbishment of Romaano’s house to the value of R952 358.

The Hawks’ investigation follows that of the Special Investigating Unit in 2010.

Former SIU head, Willie Hofmeyer, has hailed the developments.

In a FaceBook post, he has said: “Well done to the Investigating Directorate!!! At last, action on the biggest Asset Forfeiture case done at the time (2010). Working with SIU and the National Treasury, we recovered about R1.4 billion that was being siphoned off by senior ANC members in Gauteng. Unfortunately I still do not know why the NPA in Gauteng did not prosecute the case. I hope the NPA will hold someone accountable for this. We tried to resuscitate it while Nxasana (Mxolisi) was head of the NPA, but he was removed before anything could happen.”

He adds that:” After that state capture go into full swing and nothing appeared to have been done to prosecute the case until now. Lots of strenght to the NPA team.”

The case has been postponed to 3 December.

Magistrate in Horne murder case urges state to expedite investigations

Magistrate in Horne murder case urges state to expedite investigations

Skekwetje Mahlamba has been remanded in custody while his co-accused in the Horne murder is out on bail.

The duo appeared before the Senekal Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.

Sekola Matlaletsa has been granted R5 000 bail.

After reading an alibi witness’ submission before court, Magistrate  Deon van Rooyen said: “Other than what is currently on the police docket at this juncture, there is no evidence that links applicant number two to the commission of the crimes he is charged with. The results of the DNA swaps that were taken from the inside and the outside of the bakkie of the deceased, are inconclusive in as far as it relates to him.”

Magistrate van Rooyen believes it is in the interest of justice to release Matlaletsa.

He says he is not a flight risk nor will he interfere with witnesses.

Matlaletsa will have to report to a local police station on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Magistrate van Rooyen believes Mahlamba has “some explanation to do on why he left home in the middle of the night and returned the next morning.”

The fact that his girlfriend is a key witness in the matter and that he lied about his presence in the shack where a bloodied pair of pants were found by investigators are other factors for Mahlamba’s bail denial.

The Magistrate has urged the state to expedite the matter. He also appealed to the Police Minister Bheki Cele to use his influence of his office to ensure that the case is finalised timeously and the accused’s right to a speedy trial is realised.

The case will return to court on the 1st of December.

Matlaletsa and Mahlamba are accused of killing Brendin Horne on October 1.

His body was found the next day at a farm by his father and a colleague.

Horne’s death sparked racial tensions in the small Free State town.

The first appearance of the accused was marked with violence.

Attacks weary farmers and community members stormed the court building and torching a police van, among other things.

Two men are being prosecuted for that incident.

First Eastern Cape COVID-19 fraud case in court

First Eastern Cape COVID-19 fraud case in court

The Hawks have made the unit’s first Eastern Cape arrest regarding the misappropriation of COVID-19 funds.

Pumza Gambula (49) appeared before the Mthatha Magistrate’s Court early on Thursday on two fraud charges, amounting to R4.8 million.

The OR Tambo District Municipality contracted Gambula’s company, Phathilizwi Training Institute, to conduct COVID-19 door-to-door community awareness workshops.

While the company did visit residents of Mhlontlo and Port St John’s Local Municipalities, they allegedly never conducted the workshops that they have submitted invoices for. They instead allegedly asked community members to write down their names for COVID-19 social grants.

The prosecuting team says attendance registers attached to the invoices as proof of services rendered contained names of people who were not staying in some of the wards that were visited by the accused as part of their “door-to-door awareness campaign.

These documents were widely circulated on social media and sparked a public outcry. 

Gambula was never paid for the  R3 036 000 and R1 821 600 invoices she submitted between March and June. However, the state says the municipality stood to suffer a potential prejudice by means of the said false pretenses.

Gambula has been granted R20 000 bail and is due back in court next week Friday.

The court has ordered her to hand over her passport to the investigating officer and report to Madeira Police Station twice a week until the trial is finalised.

Government slams torching of four North West schools

Government slams torching of four North West schools

The Department of Basic Education has condemned the torching of four schools in Moruleng, north of Rustenburg, in the North West.

The incidents occurred last Thursday night.

“The Department of Basic Education condemns this callous act of vandalism and appeals to the community to help the police with information that can lead to the arrest of the criminals. Schools are community assets. We must protect them,” the DBE’s Elijah Mhlanga says.

  Five classrooms and the administration office were some of the properties that caught fire at Manamakgotha Secondary.

“At Raphurele Secondary in Welgevaal village attempt was made to burn classrooms, in Moruleng, two classrooms’ doors were partially burnt and at Dikwepi Primary School two classrooms were completely torched while one was partly burnt,” the North West Education Department says in a statement.

The incidents come as schools across the country gear up for the 2020 final exams, which begin on the 5th of November.

A probe into the matter continues and no arrests have yet been made.

The education department says it is evaluating the cost of the damage.

School vandalism in South Africa is an ongoing problem.

In April, the Department of Basic Education revealed that 397 learning centres had been vandalised in the country since the COVID-19 lockdown started on March 27.

‘Western Cape school gender identity guidelines have dangerous flaws’

‘Western Cape school gender identity guidelines have dangerous flaws’

Equal Education (EE) and the Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) are concerned over the Western Cape Department of Education’s (WCED) Draft Guidelines on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation in Public Schools.

The civil rights organisations believe the guidelines, in their current form, will not properly protect the rights of LGBTQIA+ learners. 

“We want to emphasise the importance of a document that can provide schools with direction on being inclusive, but are very worried that, despite the previous detailed feedback that we submitted to the WCED, various drafts of these Guidelines have not fixed the critical flaws,” say the organisations.

Equal Education and the Equal Education Law Centre say earlier versions of the department’s draft guidelines were full of highly problematic language.

“The latest version of the draft Guidelines, shared last week with a small number of academics and organisations who previously submitted comments, have addressed some of the problems, but EE and the EELC’s bigger concerns have remained unchanged,” they say.

Problem areas identified are the documents’ failure to recognise and protect learners’ Constitutional rights; failure to put strong obligations on schools and create processes that protect learners; failure to encourage schools to take proactive steps towards being inclusive and failure to centre learners and use affirming language.

The Equal Education and Equal Education Law Centre submitted a third round of feedback to the WCED on Wednesday, which the organisations say, points out the problems and how the guidelines can be improved.

Families of KZN fatal crash to receive counselling

Families of KZN fatal crash to receive counselling

The KwaZulu-Natal government says it will work with local municipalities to assist the families of Wednesday’s crash that claimed 16 lives with funeral arrangements and psychosocial services.  

The collision took place on the R66 between Melmoth and Ulundi. Authorities say a minibus taxi and a truck collided head-on; the taxi caught alight and burned out, leaving 16 people dead, including a stillborn.

They say three victims from the taxi were burnt beyond recognition and DNA testing will have to be conducted to identify them.  

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has sent his condolences to friends and families of those who have lost their loved ones in the accident.

“Collectively, as government, the private sector and civil society, we must never tire, until the scourge of rampant road fatalities is eradicated. One life lost is one life too many but death on this scale is an absolute tragedy. I am particularly saddened by the passing of an innocent infant, my heart goes out to the family. We send condolences to the bereaved and vow to work even harder to improve legislation, road infrastructure, visibility of law enforcement and road-user education, in order to put an end to the bloodshed,” he says.   

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Bheki Ntuli has called on motorists to be extra cautious on the roads. MEC Ntuli visited the accident scene to inspect the impact of the accident.

“This accident is one of the most gruesome accidents I have ever experienced because 16 people perished, including a pregnant woman who delivered a stillborn infant on the scene. It pains me that families had to lose their loved ones especially during October Transport Month, as we are busy conducting service delivery activities which includes launching high-impact infrastructure projects in various parts of the province that are key in unlocking economic opportunities,”  MEC Ntuli said.

Ntuli also conveyed his condolences to the families of the deceased and wished the five survivors in hospital a speedy recovery. He has reassured the bereaved families that the government will work tirelessly to process the DNA testing of the three victims so that all families can find closure and bury their loved ones.

The South African Police Service and the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) are investigating the cause of the crash.   

Dispute over Harteespoort Dam shoreline rages on

Dispute over Harteespoort Dam shoreline rages on

The Harteespoort Community Development Initiative has taken the Department of Water and Sanitation to  the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

The Non-Profit Organisation is accusing the department of discriminating against Black lease applicants at the Harteesport Dam’s shoreline.

“Our organisation has evidence of collusion between White DWS officials who treat White illegal occupiers of state land (prime shoreline land) preferentially. These White people occupy and use this land for free while Black people who have applied for leases are denied the same opportunity while they are denied the same permission to occupy for free like all White illegal occupiers,” the organisation’s Mmeli Mduli told Local Voices.

He says the department is dilly dallying with finalising its internal processes to boot out illegal occupiers of the shoreline.

According to the NPO, the oldest Black lease applicant has now been waiting for a lease for 8 years since lodging his lease application in October 2012. This while a White lease applicant was approved within the same period. 

The legal battle between the Water Affairs Department and the Harteespoort Community Development Initiative dates back to 2018.

The NPO says it approached the human rights commission after its complaint with the office of the Public Protector proved futile.

Call for donations following Free State runaway fires

Call for donations following Free State runaway fires

The public is urged to donate to the Free State Agriculture’s (FSA) disaster fund to assist farmers who have lost livestock and had their infrastructure destroyed by wildfires.

Animal feed or cash will be accepted.

According to the Farmers’ Weekly, the fires, fanned by strong winds, have destroyed nearly 100 000ha in the western Free State since the weekend.

The fires reportedly started on Sunday when service delivery protesters burned tyres on the R708 road between Hertzogville and Christiana.

Flames from the burning tyres are thought to have spread to the surrounding veld, from where they fanned out to Hertzogville, Boshof, Bultfontein and Hoopstad, according to Gys Olivier, chairperson of the Hertzogville District Farmers’ Union – who spoke to the Farmers’ Weekly.

He described the burnt areas as something akin to a lunar landscape, “eerily quiet and devoid of life”.

However, Olivier said the affected farmers were heartened by all the support that had poured in.

“I have to commend the Working on Fire teams for doing their utmost to contain the inferno. The assistance we received from all sides gave us the courage and resolve to stay positive. The affected districts functioned in a unified manner, forging ahead to fight the inferno. It goes without saying that we are hurt and shocked to the core, but we are not without hope,” he said.

While the cost of the damage caused by the inferno is not yet known, one Hertzogville farmer is said to have lost R900 000 worth of livestock, and the damage to the infrastructure on his farm is R3 million.

The Free State Agriculture has reportedly made R100 000 available from its disaster fund for the transportation of animal feed to the affected areas.

Those who want to donate are urged to call Elaine Olivier on 082 787 9660 or deposit money to the disaster fund at Absa’s account 470 940 670. The reference for the donation is Ramp.

The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture has called on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister, Thoko Didiza, to declare affected places as disaster areas.

“We commend the farmers and farming communities for saving lives and ensuring that there are no casualties, and for acting swiftly to prevent further devastation and decimation of property,” says the committee in a statement.

Chairperson Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela added: “We trust that the investigation will rule out the possibility of arson as it is inconceivable why anyone would want to cause such widespread destruction.”

Gandlanani mob justice suspects remanded in custody

Gandlanani mob justice suspects remanded in custody

The Gandlanani Village mob justice case in Giyani, Limpopo, has been postponed to next week Tuesday.

Police Spokesperson Brigadier Motlalefa Mojapelo says police initially arrested 23 locals for vigilantism and mob justice on Sunday.

While Mojapelo yesterday told Local Voices that 21 suspects were due in court, he says only 20 appeared.

“Three were released after failure to link them to the crime,” he says.

The suspects, who appeared in the Giyani Magistrate Court, have been remanded in custody.

They face charges of murder, public violence, arson and malicious damage to property.

The accused allegedly assaulted and burnt a businessman blamed for the disappearance of 25-year-old Mahlori Maluleka.

The community had apparently consulted with a local sangoma, who blamed the deceased and two of his employees for the teenager’s disappearance.

According to Giyani News, the police took the traditional healer in for questioning yesterday and was later released.

Police have condemned the community’s actions.

Concern over alleged resurgence of gang violence in Dan Village

Concern over alleged resurgence of gang violence in Dan Village

Gang violence has reportedly reared its ugly head again in Dan Village, outside Tzaneen, in Limpopo.

According to a Capricon FM news report, four people were killed between June and July this year.

Now community members, fearing for their safety, have urged the Police Minister, Bheki Cele, to intervene.

Limpopo Police Spokesperson, Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo, has told Local Voices that he doesn’t know anything about the resurgence of gang violence in the area.

He has, however, promised to investigate the matter.

Local Voices contributor, Nhlangula Sithole, says Boko Haram and Masakhinya gangs have been terrorising the community for years now.

Things go a little better when a neighbourhood watch group was formed last year.

But violent crimes have resurfaced after the patrol team allegedly fell apart due to power struggles.

Older men in the community have allegedly been funding the Boko Haram gang, named after a Nigerian militant group.

Some police officials were also accused of being lenient with the gang members.

In April 2019, the Small Business department visited the area and held a business outreach campaign in a bid to curb crime in the area.

It had followed a 2018 visit by national departments, including the Police Ministry. Then Deputy Police Minister, Bongani Mkongi, condemned the corrupt police officers and warned, “if we catch you as a policeman helping the criminals or working with them you will swap your blue uniforms with the orange overalls.”

He also urged community members not to buy stolen items.

In 2018, 13 members of Boko Haram were sentenced to 6 and 10 years behind bars for violent crimes.

They are, however, now out following the government’s decision to release petty crime convicts from jail due to the coronavirus outbreak.