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.