Health department passes buck on 'outrageous markup' for hospital beds

05 August 2020 - 21:49 By Nomahlubi Jordaan
Beds procured for the Nasrec field hospital were allegedly purchased for R13,000 each, more than double their value.
Beds procured for the Nasrec field hospital were allegedly purchased for R13,000 each, more than double their value.
Image: Twitter

The Gauteng health department has distanced itself from allegations that it bought steel beds at a cost of R13,000 each for the Nasrec field hospital in Johannesburg - when it could have spent R5,000 on each bed.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) made the claim in a statement on Wednesday, saying the department paid R13,000 when it could have bought them for less than half of that from other suppliers.

“According to a presentation to the Gauteng legislature’s health committee, 1,000 beds with mattresses were bought for R13m ... I have established that a fair price for this type of bed, together with a mattress, is about R5,000,” said DA shadow health MEC Jack Bloom.

“This highlights yet again how the department is being ripped off by a poor and possibly corrupt choice of supplier, probably a middleman with an outrageous markup.

“The total cost of equipment for the Nasrec field hospital is R24.1m, which is also likely to be about double what it should have cost. It includes, for instance, R18,000 spent on 40 wall clocks for R450 each.”

Bloom said he hoped that the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) would investigate these contracts and the Competition Commission would probe the prices - and that cash would be recovered.

The SIU is already investigating allegations of tender irregularities involving personal protective equipment (PPE).

Gauteng premier David Makhura last week revealed that 102 companies were under investigation over Covid-19 tenders in the province.

Approached for comment on the procurement of beds at Nasrec, Gauteng health spokesperson Kwara Kekana said: “We haven't bought any beds but entered into a service-level agreement through the Gauteng department of infrastructure for full on-boarding services.”

She referred further questions to the provincial infrastructure department. The department had not responded to questions by the time of publication on Wednesday night.

MEC for infrastructure Tasneem Motara said in video posted on Twitter during a tour of the Nasrec field hospital before its completion that the facility would have 2,200 beds.

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