The Gauteng Health Department is firmly back in the spotlight a year after whistle-blower and acting Gauteng health chief financial officer, Babita Deokaran, paid with her life for flagging corruption of R850m at the Tembisa Hospital.  The inquest into the Life Esidimeni tragedy, in which 144 psychiatric patients died in 2015/16 and for which nobody has been held accountable yet, also resumed last week. 

Among the things bought with money meant for the hospital, was a shipment of skinny jeans, luxury leather couches and four buckets (worth less than R600) for R40 000.  However, Gauteng Health department's internal probe of the Tembisa hospital was concluded in less than a week, and auditors were pulled on the day Deokaran was assassinated. 

All of this, however, was kept quiet, until investigative journalists from News24 exposed the flagrant corruption and lack of action by the Department. Only then were the Department’s CFO and the Tembisa Hospital’s CEO suspended. Gauteng premier David Makhura also only announced an independent forensic investigation into Deokaran’s death one week before the anniversary of her killing.  

Upon the arrest of six men allegedly hired to kill Deokaran,  law enforcement officials promised quick arrests of the person/s who ordered the assassination. Sadly, nobody else has been arrested so far. 

In July, OUTA protested at the Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital to have paediatric gastroenterologist Dr. Tim de Maayer, who exposed the poor management of the hospital in an open letter to the media, reinstated in his job.  After collective pressure from civil society and medical professionals, all charges against Dr De Maayer has been dropped. 

OUTA has written to the Gauteng MEC for Health, Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi, three times since June to address the lack of oversight and management controls in her department. Only our third letter was acknowledged. 

We expressed our concern over the state of Gauteng’s Health Department in a peaceful protest in front of the Department’s office in Johannesburg on the 7th of September. It is our sincere belief that the office continues to fail in its duties to ensure appropriate conditions and controls to uphold the required delivery of healthcare to the residents in Gauteng, and we demand the resignation of the MEC.