SIU gets green light to probe Life Esidimeni, Umgeni Water

Thursday, January 17, 2019

President Cyril Ramaphosa has given the green light for the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to investigate the affairs of the Gauteng Department of Health’s Life Healthcare Esidimeni contract and 28 entities in whose care mental health users were entrusted.

The Presidency on Wednesday said the SIU will probe allegations of irregularities in procurement by the Gauteng Department of Health, its employees or by contractors on behalf of the department. 

The authorisation also enables the SIU to investigate irregularities by officials or employees of Life Healthcare Esidimeni.

Life Healthcare Esidimeni came under the spotlight in 2016 when about 140 mental health patients passed away when they were moved from Life Esidimeni Healthcare to inadequately equipped, unsanctioned NGO facilities.

According to the Health Ombudsman’s report, all 27 NGOs to which the patients were transferred operated under invalid licences and all patients who died at these facilities died under unlawful circumstances.

The move was facilitated under the Gauteng Mental Health Marathon Project (GMHMP), which has since been stopped.

Umgeni Water probe 

Meanwhile, the SIU has been authorised to look into the affairs of Umgeni Water, a KwaZulu-Natal water utility.

Umgeni Water is the second largest water board in the country, with an annual turnover of more than R2.4 billion and a five-year capital expenditure budget of more than R7 billion.

The entity has been rocked by allegations of corruption, which among other includes a R220 million security tender that was awarded to a company with political connections.

The SIU, according to the Presidency, has been authorised to investigate allegations of unauthorised, irregular or fruitless and wasteful expenditure and loss incurred by the board or the State as a result of matters including the provision or upgrading of emergency boreholes in uMkhanyakude District Municipality.

This is in addition to the repair or refurbishment of Nagle Aqueducts; the replacement of filter slabs, pipelines and nozzles in terms of the Contract Participation Goal Programme of Umgeni, as well as the provision or upgrading of chlorine distribution equipment, the distribution of chlorine and the upgrading of shaft pumps and lifts at the Durban Heights Plant.

The SIU will also investigate allegations of serious irregularities in relation to the procurement of goods and/or services in a manner that was not fair, competitive, transparent, equitable or cost-effective contrary to the applicable legal framework. –