Gauteng Health pays R5.7 million to suspended employees

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC

The Gauteng Health Department has paid R5 760 000 to 16 employees suspended with pay, some of them since June last year.

According to Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature, six employees are charged with alleged procurement irregularities, two are charged with alleged fraudulent activities, two others with alleged selling of jobs, and the rest face a variety of charges including insubordination, unacceptable behaviour, and theft of body parts.

Ten of the cases date back to last year, including four senior employees who were suspended in June 2013. Their salaries alone amount to R3 372 000.

The largest single payment is to a Chief Specialist who was suspended in November last year.

The department claims that delays are caused by the complexity of the disciplinary matters, some of which involve investigations by the Gauteng Audit Services and the Special Investigations Unit.

I am concerned that disciplinary cases take so long to conclude and that so much money is paid to employees suspended with pay. Cases should ideally be finalised within 90 days, and no case should ever drag on for longer than a year.

The department needs to build up expertise to speed up disciplinary cases while protecting the rights of employees to fair process.