Home News R96m nursing accommodation trial: ’Procurement processes were not followed’

R96m nursing accommodation trial: ’Procurement processes were not followed’

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The director of supply chain management at the Northern Cape Department of Health, Malibongwe Fass, stated that procurement processes were not followed when lease agreements were entered into for nursing accommodation at the Hoffe Park JP Hugo hostels between 2010 and 2012.

The former acting HOD at the Northern Cape Department of Health, Dr Dion Theys, appeared in court on charges of contravening the Public Finance Management Act. Picture: Soraya Crowie

THE DIRECTOR of supply chain management at the Northern Cape Department of Health, Malibongwe Fass, stated that procurement processes were not followed when lease agreements were entered into for nursing accommodation at the Hoffe Park JP Hugo hostels between 2010 and 2012.

The former acting head of the Department of Health, Dr Dion Theys, appeared in the Commercial Crimes Court in Kimberley this week in relation to three lease agreements that were secured with JP Hugo Trading amounting to over R96 million.

Fass told the court that he, along with Mr Mashilo from legal services, inspected the premises after complaints were laid by students regarding the conditions at the hostel, including the poor quality of the food and the provision of only cold water.

“These problems usually occur when service providers experience late payment. No formal procurement processes were followed and if they were, the complaints would have been in contravention of the bid specifications. There are norms and standards that would disqualify service providers who did not meet these expectations,” said Fass.

“Mr Mashilo and I decided to be careful with how we involved ourselves and to go in with our eyes open.”

He added that supply chain management did not have the authority to increase the rates of the rentals, cancel a lease or authorise any expenditure.

“The chief financial officer should advise the HOD if there are any financial implications. The HOD has the final word to sign or not sign a contract.”

Fass stated that the lease was eventually terminated and the hostels were sold to Sol Plaatje University as the Department of Health “became tired of the problems”.

“The department also had a new chief financial officer who wanted to rectify things in the department while Dr Theys was out of the picture at that stage.”

He added that the department approached the Department of Roads and Public Works to build nursing student accommodation, although construction was not completed yet.

The legal representative for Theys, advocate Moses Mphaga SC, believed that Fass was complicit in promoting unlawful and irregular expenditure by “remaining silent” in the face of potential wrongdoing.

He pointed out that Theys had to rely on information presented to him regarding the Hoffe Park hostels, where he was bound to come to the conclusion that it was the only suitable accommodation venue.

“He was justified in approving a deviation due to the crisis of having to source accommodation for nursing students as a matter of urgency,” said Mphaga.

“After the new HOD was appointed, it became worse because there were no written contracts for Hoffe Park. The HOD at the time, Gugu Matloapane, must have also been informed that Hoffe Park was the only available suitable accommodation – she cannot be blamed for the contracts that were consequently extended on a month-to-month basis.”

State advocate Isaac Mphela indicated that if procurement processes were followed, bidding processes and documentary evidence would be available, detailing the motivation to deviate from normal processes.

The matter is being heard before Magistrate Vernon Smith.

Picture: Soraya Crowie
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