Cover-up! Gauteng Health Department falsely denied Tembisa hospital CEO misconduct charge

Issued by Jack Bloom MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health
19 Sep 2022 in Press Statements

The Gauteng Health Department falsely denied that suspended Tembisa Hospital CEO Ashley Mthunzi was appointed as the CEO last year while facing a disciplinary charge that should have disqualified him.

In a written reply to my questions signed on 20 June 2022, Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi denied that Mthunzi had been found guilty on a misconduct charge.

But when I asked a question challenging this denial as I had information, he was given a final written warning for misconduct on 15 September 2021, Mokgethi replied as follows:

“On 15 September 2021, the acting Head of Department, Dr Sibongile Zungu approved recommendations that Dr A Mthunzi should be disciplined for contravening the Recruitment and Selection Policy. The Labour Relations Directorate was supposed to implement the said recommendations.”

I asked who had provided the false information that he had not been found guilty on any misconduct charge, and the reply was that it was the former Acting DDG: Hospital Services Mr Freddy Kgongwana.

The important issue is that Mthunzi should never have been appointed as the Tembisa Hospital CEO as he was facing a disciplinary charge that occurred when he was the CEO of the Pholosong Hospital.

According to Mokgethi: “The Selection Committee did not have knowledge or information on Dr Mthunzi’s pending disciplinary hearing whilst at Pholosong Hospital.”

The reason given is that “The Selection Committee was not aware as the information was not in his personal [file] nor in the register of pending disciplinary cases.”

This is the second time that a hospital CEO has been appointed despite facing a disciplinary charge – a Far East Rand Hospital CEO was dismissed after he was found guilty of fraud at his previous hospital position.

I suspect there was a deliberate cover-up of the disciplinary charge facing Mthunzi in order to appoint him as the Tembisa Hospital CEO.

A surge of payments to suspicious companies took place shortly after he was appointed as Acting CEO at Tembisa Hospital in April last year. These payments were flagged by murdered whistleblower Babita Deokaran who requested a forensic audit that was never done.

We need to know why Mthunzi’s disciplinary charge was not disclosed to the Selection Committee that appointed him as the permanent CEO in June last year.

Mokgethi says that the department will investigate and take “appropriate action” against those responsible for the incorrect information given to me previously.

This is not good enough. There needs to be a shake-up of the entire top management of the Gauteng Health Department to eliminate a buddy-buddy network that influences appointments and protects those involved in wrongdoing.

It’s an extremely serious matter to provide an incorrect reply to the Gauteng Legislature.

I will be writing to the Speaker to follow up on this.

There must be no cover-up of who pulled the strings to get Mthunzi to head the Tembisa Hospital, which was followed by R850 million payments to fishy companies that Babita Deokaran said were “possibly corrupt.”