Five things the Gauteng health department spent your money on – SIU

Special Investigation Unit (SIU) report released this week provides new details of more than R1.2-billion in graft at the Gauteng health department — from limousine-chauffeured luxury spa treatments to jobs for cash. The 122-page document, which was released on Thursday, investigates the provincial health department’s conduct between January 2006 and May 2010 — for most of this period, between 2006 and 2009, the ANC’s chief whip in the Gauteng legislature, Brian Hlongwa, was the province’s health MEC.

The report was handed over to former President Jacob Zuma in March 2017, but was never made public.

Want to know what the investigation says about bribes and what your tax money was used for? Here are five things.

1. Bribes for beauty

Brian Hlongwa and his wife seemed to live the high life. In September 2009, they went for a luxury spa treatment, complete with limousine transport. Who paid for it? A now liquidated firm, 3P Consulting, of which Hlongwa’s long term friend, Richard Payne, was a director. The department repeatedly awarded large contracts to 3P during Hlogwa’s tensure.

2. Brian Hlongwa’s house deposit

In 2007, Hlongwa bought a R7.2-million house in Bryanston, Johannesburg for which he had to to pay a R2.6 million deposit. But R1.6 million was paid by 3P Consulting, according to the report. Another R1 million was paid by Niven Pillay, the director of Regiments Health Care, a company that 3P appointed as a sub-contractor to the department. Regiments Health Care was a business unit within Regiments Capital, a company at the centre of the Gupta corruption scandal. 

3. Drawing up a non-existent budget

In 2006, the Gauteng health department appointed 3P Consulting irregularly to compile its 2007/2008 budget. The contract was for R779 500, but R1 461 461 was paid. The firm didn’t deliver a budget; eventually the department’s director of budgeting compiled the budget.

4. The salaries of the employees of a firm that “captured” the department

The health department allowed 3P Consulting to second 20 of its own employees to the Gauteng health department. One such employee was appointed to the position of acting chief financial officer, who then approved all 3P’s payments and also served as a voting member on the Departmental Acquisition Council that decides on tenders and the procurement of services.

5. A fake turnaround strategy

The department appointed 3P Consulting without following proper procurement processes to create a turnaround strategy. This led to a bigger contract to establish a project management unit within the department. But 3P Consulting then awarded contracts to friends and family of its directors and companies in which it held an interest and heavily inflated the prices of services it rendered. It also received generous kickbacks from contractors it contracted with.

Hlongwa’s spokesperson, Kgapa Mabusela, said Hlongwa could not comment on the report’s findings, because “the matter is before the courts”. The Gauteng health department also did not respond, arguing that it had not seen the report. “We will study the report once we get access to it and all appropriate actions will be taken,” spokesperson Lesemang Matuka said. Presidential spokesperson Kusela Diko did not respond to Bhekisisa’s requests for comment.

Mia Malan
Mia Malan
Mia Malan is the founding director and editor of the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism at the Mail & Guardian. She heads up a team of fifteen permanent and freelance staff members. She loves drama, good wine and strong coffee, not necessarily in that order.
Bhekisisa team
Bhekisisa Team
Health features and news from across Africa by Bhekisisa, the Mail & Guardian's health journalism centre.

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