Copper was stolen from the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Johannesburg after a fire forced the facility to shut down in April. Picture: Gauteng Department of Health
Copper was stolen from the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Johannesburg after a fire forced the facility to shut down in April. Picture: Gauteng Department of Health

DA flags R2 billion spent on hospital security contracts

By Roland Mpofu Time of article published Oct 25, 2021

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The Gauteng Health Department has come under fire from the main opposition party in the legislature for spending more than R2 billion on hospital security contracts that expired five years ago.

In a written reply to questions by DA health spokesperson MPL Jack Bloom in the Gauteng legislature, MEC Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi said the original two-year contracts were meant to expire in September 2016.

However, “due to the critical nature of the services, there was a need for extension of contracts. Therefore, the service rendered needs to be paid,” read the response to the question on the legal basis for these payments to be made.

Copper was stolen from the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Johannesburg after a fire forced the facility to shut down in April. Picture: Gauteng Department of Health

So far, the department has paid 59 security companies R2.6 billion for contracts to guard public hospitals that were supposed to expire five years ago but have been “irregularly extended” every month.

Mokgethi said in 2016, the department advertised for new security contracts, but the tender was subsequently cancelled.

She added that another tender was advertised in September last year, but “due to the high volume of the responses as well as the various phases of the evaluation process, it is at the final stage”.

Asked what disciplinary measures have been taken or if criminal charges had been laid in connection with the irregular awarding of these security contracts, Mokgethi said “none”.

According to Bloom, there is extremely poor management of security tenders which appear to be grossly overpriced, and should have been reviewed five years ago.

“One example is R3 million spent every month for security at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital, which is ridiculously high and was unable to stop R30 million theft of copper pipes following the fire there in April this year.

“Every year, the auditor-general is critical of huge irregular spending by the department, including about R600 million of hospital security contracts that have been extended on a month-by-month basis for five years.”

Bloom said he suspects corruption as the health department has been plagued by numerous embezzlement scandals in the past. The latest was the PPE tender scandal which led to former MEC Dr Bandile Masuku being fired by the Gauteng premier David Makura.

“I suspect corruption as it is a typical trick to get a tender for a limited period which is then extended for much longer. The department can save a lot of money by regular reviews of security contracts to ensure value for money and effectiveness.

“Far too much is spent wastefully when every penny is needed to provide decent healthcare for patients who suffer from services in our hospital and clinics,” said Bloom.

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