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Former health MEC Brian Hlongwa due in court over decade-old scandal

07 December 2021 - 09:06
A SIU report implicates Brian Hlongwa in alleged corrupt and fraudulent dealings worth R1.2bn in the Gauteng health department. File image.
A SIU report implicates Brian Hlongwa in alleged corrupt and fraudulent dealings worth R1.2bn in the Gauteng health department. File image.
Image: Mohau Mofokeng

Former Gauteng health MEC Brian Hlongwa, who was implicated in irregular expenditure during his tenure between 2006 and 2010, will appear in a Johannesburg court on Tuesday.

This was confirmed by a National Prosecuting Authority official on Tuesday morning.

Hlongwa was implicated in a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report in 2018 regarding alleged corruption involving R1.2bn relating to tenders. He allegedly received kickbacks‚ luxury trips and other benefits.

Four former Gauteng health department officials appeared in court last year regarding allegations of wrongdoing in the awarding of tenders during Hlongwa’s tenure. They are charged with acts of corruption and contravening provisions of the Public Finance Management Act.

The Hawks said on Tuesday that nine suspects linked to multimillion-rand tender fraud in the Gauteng health department were due to appear in court.

These included former Gauteng health department senior and executive officials, private individuals and entities on charges of fraud, corruption, money laundering and a pattern of racketeering activity allegedly perpetuated against the department. The Hawks did not name the accused.

“Eight of the nine have handed themselves over at Johannesburg Central police station for processing and will appear in the Johannesburg magistrate’s court. The ninth is said to be out of the country and the process of applying for his extradition is in progress,” said Brig Nomthandazo Mbambo.

“This forms part of the second leg of investigations into allegations of gross irregularities committed at the Gauteng health department between 2006 and 2010.”

The case was referred to the Hawks' serious corruption investigation unit by the SIU in September 2011 for further investigation.

The Hawks said the department awarded several contracts to an entity or juristic person which were initially meant for two years at a cost of R68m per annum.

“However, this amount was allegedly overspent to the tune of R221m without any consequences for the individuals involved.”

The main contract was the establishment of a “Project Management Unit (PMU)” which was awarded in July 2007 and extended in February 2009 for another three years without putting it out on an open tender and at a cost of approximately R273m per annum.

“Several senior and executive officials in  the department allegedly received gratifications from the main service provider and subcontractors in the form of cash, loans, gifts and all-expenses paid local and international trips. It is further alleged that none of the Gauteng health department officials ever declared such gifts.”

Mbambo said the first leg of the investigation was concluded in October, after which four department officials were charged. They will appear in court again on January 28.

The national head of the Hawks, Lt-Gen Godfrey Lebeya, said: “Although this investigation had challenges of its own, I am satisfied our prioritisation has resulted in securing the attendance of the accused, who also face the charge of a pattern of racketeering activity.”

“The investigation team and prosecutors are commended for the efforts invested in the matter since prioritisation.”

This is a developing story.

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