Fate of suspended Gauteng Health officials in balance after HOD Lukhele quits

The province has been at the centre of allegations of COVID-19 corruption that saw the suspension of Lukhele, the Health deputy Director-General Andile Gwebani and Health MEC Bandile Masuku.

Gauteng Health Department’s Prof Mkhululi Lukhele at a media briefing on 23 May 2020. Picture: @GautengHealth/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG – The fate of several Gauteng Health Department officials hangs in the balance following the resignation of Health HOD, Professor Mkhululi Lukhele.

The province has been at the centre of allegations of COVID-19 corruption that saw the suspension of Lukhele, the Health deputy Director-General Andile Gwebani and Health MEC Bandile Masuku.

Premier David Makhura has vowed to take action against corrupt officials involved in dodgy procurement deals, including those who allowed it to happen.

Makhura has accepted the resignation of Lukhele.

Lukhele was suspended following a probe by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) into alleged corruption in the awarding of tenders for the procurement of personal protective equipment.

The premier’s spokesperson Vuyo Maga: “The precautionary suspension was for him not executing his duties as the accounting officer, not necessarily because he was involved in corruption. We will continue to allow the SIU to do its work but if there is a case that must be opened, we will pursue it. Either you are in government or outside it.”

On the fate of Health MEC Bandile Masuku, whose special leave has been extended, Maga said that the premier was waiting for the SIU’s final report.

Meanwhile, the Right2Know Campaign has called for corrupt officials to be arrested, saying that the looting of COVID-19 funds for personal benefit had left thousands of residents and healthcare workers vulnerable.

R2K said that politicians and connected tenderpreneurs became overnight millionaires at the cost of ordinary South Africas and healthcare workers, many of whom got infected or died of COVID-19 due to the absence of the necessary protection.

Spokesperson Dale McKinley said that while they welcomed Lukhele’s resignation, the now-former HOD must also have his day in court.

“On of the things that often happens is that people resign and leave before they can be held accountable and that is very worrying. So we urge not only the premier and the ANC as the ruling party to actually practice what they preach and say that if people have been charged and there is evidence of their criminal activity, not only must those people be suspended and not just allowed to resign but they must be pursued with criminal charges.”

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