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Hlongwa, Mahlangu remain on high-level ANC body despite ban on public office

Gauteng ANC Chief Whip Brian Hlongwa resigned just hours before the party’s provincial executive committee released a statement in which it backed calls by its integrity committee to bar Hlongwa from public office.

Similarly prohibited from bearing office are Simon Mofokeng and former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu. Mahlangu presided over what has become known as the Life Esidimeni tragedy in which 144 state mental health patients lost their lives after she ordered their removal from long-term state-sponsored care at private hospitals.

Mofokeng was suspended as mayor of Emfuleni and later left office after claims surfaced that he had allegedly sexually assaulted a minor, several media outlets have reported.

Hlongwa is alleged to have crippled the Gauteng health department after a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report found that over R1.2-billion was lost to graft during his tenure as MEC. The 122-page document — released earlier this year by public interest law organisation Section27 — revealed new about the extent of rot at the provincial health department, which essentially became an informal arm of the now-liquidated consulting firm, 3P Consulting.

The report had been handed over to President Jacob Zuma in March 2017. Hlongwa told Bhekisisa in June that he had arranged to hand himself over to the Hawks in 2014 so that the allegations against him could be investigated.

He said: “My legal representatives had already prepared affidavits in support of the inevitable bail application when the Hawks informed me that, at that point in time, they would not be proceeding with my arrest.”

At the Presidential health summit earlier this month, SIU head advocate Andy Mothibi said the healthcare sector remains at a high risk for corruption and is one of their focus areas. He also warned decisive action had to be taken against those implicated in SIU reports.

“We want independent investigations that are turned around quickly and submit and identify findings appropriately. Once those findings come out, there’s this worry that there is no action.

“We would like to make sure that the space is known for taking actions. Prosecutions, civil litigations, disciplinary actions have to follow”, Mothibi explained.

In its statement, the provincial executive committee said it had disagreed with recommendations by the integrity committee that the trio’s behaviour carry possible consequences for at least some members’ standing in the party, including membership. The executive committee, however, did not go into specifics as to what those recommendations were and to who they applied.

Hlongwa and Mahlangu were elected to the party’s provincial executive committee in July.

Read the full statement below.

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Laura López González
Laura López González is a freelance health journalist and editor with more than 15 years of experience covering global health. She is the former deputy editor of South Africa's Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism.

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