DA KZN: DoH jeopardising CT ‘scammer’ probe

Dr Imran Keeka, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Health:

The DA has today submitted parliamentary questions to KZN Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, questioning the accuracy of information provided to the province’s SCOPA portfolio committee into possible fraudulent and corrupt activity in the awarding of CT scanner tenders in several hospitals across the province.

The move comes after a joint sitting of the KZN health portfolio committee and SCOPA last week during which the DoH, in its health report, stated that case number CAS247/8/2013 relating to the CT scanner tender at Addington Hospital had been opened.

Further investigations by the DA have revealed that, according to the Point Police Station, this case number relates to an unlicensed motor vehicle and definitely not to a radiography machine.

Two other case numbers, CAS 210/2010 and CAS 527/03/2011, also presented to Scopa during the meeting, have been found to be a drug case – completely unrelated to Addington – and malicious damage to property in the form of broken windows outside hospital.

Both numbers were also quoted in replies to questions by the DA about medical equipment at Addington hospital.

The MEC and his department have some explaining to do.

At best this is a blunder which threatens to jeopardise the entire forensic audit into improper tender procedures.

At worst the MEC and his department have lied.

During the same meeting, the DA queried whether charges had yet been laid against offenders.  This after the department confirmed in an earlier parliamentary reply to the DA that there was evidence of fraudulent activity in the granting of these tenders.  Despite this, the department is yet to name any individuals or companies through any report tabled before the legislature.

CT scanners are essential in the diagnosis of serious conditions as well as in cases of head and other trauma.  Patients’ lives are endangered when these machines are broken and they have to be transported – in some cases more than an hour away – to and from institutions for an emergency scan.  In serious head and neck trauma no time can be wasted.

When a CT scanner in one hospital is broken, nearby hospitals have to carry the burden of an increased number of patients that need to be scanned.  Without doubt, this decreases the lifespan of the machine in that institution.

The breaking down of these machines in KZN hospitals seems to be having a domino effect, with one after another out of order.

Last year, the DA submitted a parliamentary question to the MEC regarding radiology services at RK Khan Hospital.  This hospital is immensely over burdened as a result of taking on the load from Addington and King Edward due to their machines being broken.

The MEC chose to shy away from answering these questions.

The ‘cloak and dagger’ approach of the ANC when it comes to the awarding of tenders is in direct contrast to the system used in the Western Cape, where all matters are open to the public.

It is imperative that KZN’s health department distance itself from what is clearly a corrupt system in the interest of patients in this province.  The issue of cancer machine tenders is not too dissimilar.

The DA expects MEC Dhlomo to respond to today’s questions within 14 days according to the rules of the KZN legislature – or even sooner as we have seen when it comes to ‘softer’ issues.

We expect him to answer in a transparent and precise manner and not to attempt to cover-up any fraud and mismanagement.  His commitment to responding honestly and accurately is the only way to avoid further suffering and death.