The Democratic Alliance (DA) says it has asked the office of the Public Protector to investigate suspended Tembisa Hospital CEO Ashley Mthunzi’s appointment by the provincial Department of Health last year.
The party’s Gauteng health spokesperson Jack Bloom said the department accused him of “sensational allegations and deliberate distortion of facts”” after he stated that Mthunzi was appointed even though he was facing a disciplinary charge that should have disqualified him.
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Last week, the department denied that Mthunzi faced disciplinary action at the time his appointment was effected.
According Bloom, Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi told him in a written reply on 15 September 2021 that Mthunzi was facing a disciplinary hearing based on misconduct and was given a final written warning.
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He said she further told him that Mthunzi was supposed to be disciplined for allegedly contravening the department’s recruitment and selection policy.
“The reply reads as follows: On 15 September 2021, the acting Head of Department, Dr Sibongile Zungu approved recommendations that Dr A Mthunzi should be disciplined for contravening the Recruitment and Selection Policy. The Labour Relations Directorate was supposed to implement the said recommendations,” said Bloom.
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He said when he asked who provided the “false information” that he had not been found guilty on any misconduct charge, the reply was that it was the former acting deputy director for hospital services, Freddy Kgongwana.
“It is clear from the above that Mthunzi was indeed facing a disciplinary hearing when he was at Pholosong Hospital, and that it was wrong that this information was not given to the Selection Committee. Why is the department now contradicting an official reply by the Health MEC?,” asked Bloom.
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Mthunzi is now suspended – together with chief financial officer Lerato Madyo – over the improper procurement and payment of service providers at Tembisa Hospital totaling R850 million.
News24 reported that the hospital spent almost R850 million on dodgy payments, including almost R500 000 to purchase 200 pairs of skinny jeans. This amounts to R2 500 being spent on each pair.
Mthunzi is married to Young Nurses Indaba Trade Union (YNITU) secretary Lerato Mthunzi. The union has come to his defence as he faces serious corruption allegations.
He has since denied the allegations and said that the money was used to buy suture material. He blamed a coding error – saying that the code for the skinny jeans should have been a code for monocryl sutures.
The department’s official and whistleblower Babita Deokaran flagged R850 million in suspicious transactions at the hospital just weeks before she was killed in a hit in August last year.
Many of those payments were overseen by Mthunzi, who was appointed CEO in mid-2021 after acting in the role since April of that year.
“The Public Protector is already investigating the alleged irregular appointment of the department’s CFO Lerato Madyo after a whistleblower referred it to them and also a referral by myself to the PSC which passed it on to them.
“We need to expose the sinister network at the Department that colluded in massive theft while patients suffer in under-staffed and poorly equipped hospitals,” said Bloom.
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