A Gauteng Department of Health official has challenged her suspension as she faces fraud allegations possibly linked to the murder of whistleblower Babita Deokaran.
The provincial department’s chief financial officer (CFO) Lerato Madyo was suspended with immediate effect on Friday, alongside Tembisa Hospital chief executive officer (CEO), Ashley Mthunzi.
The Gauteng provincial government explained that the pair were being placed on suspension to ensure that their presence in office does not impede the investigation of the serious allegations pertaining to the improper procurement and payment of service providers at Tembisa Hospital.
The provincial government has since referred the matter to the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) for a forensic investigation.
‘Done without my knowledge’
With Madyo accused of not acting on a report into alleged fraudulent payments, the CFO has compiled a 20-page report responding to the allegations against her.
According to City Press, Madyo has argued that she was not involved in the payment of suppliers or supply chain management and labelled the alleged R850 million paid out by the hospital as “misleading”.
The CFO explained in the report that she only assumed her position in May 2021, and she was then requested to compile a report about the alleged fraudulent claims raised by Deokaran two months later.
“Around mid-July, and as part of our weekly meeting, Babita raised concerns about cash flow challenges that affected payments by the department. I remember Babita and I talking about several facilities in health which possibly operated in syndicates abusing state resources unnecessarily,” she said.
“On the same day, Babita instructed [National] Treasury to stop payment runs relating to Tembisa Hospital. This was done without my knowledge and/or approval.
“The process of payment runs was the responsibility of the chief director, not necessarily that of the CFO,” Madyo added.
She also argued that the procurement process required facilities to select suppliers they needed to procure goods and services from.
The head office then has to check compliance and authorise or approve the order after the selected supplier has been submitted through software used for streamlining processes.
Once authorisation has been granted by supply chain officials, a purchase order is then created.
Madyo further defended herself, saying it was only on an ad-hoc basis that her office would discuss payment runs with the finance department.
She added that there had been an increase in the number of payments received and processed in July.
“As we conducted our financial business practices, enquiries went direct to Babita as the immediate supervisor in the chief directorate. I submitted my enquiries via WhatsApp and made it clear that I did not like dealing with politicians as they have tendencies of making constant enquiries until the matter is resolved,” the CFO said.
ANC Ekurhuleni treasurer Sello Sekhokho’s company, Kaizen Projects, was reportedly one of the selected suppliers.
Meanwhile, Gauteng Health spokesperson Motalatale Modiba told City Press that Madyo’s report was not important since the CFO has already been suspended with full pay.
“Premier [David] Makhura’s office has started with the proceedings of the case,” Modiba said.