Nineteen former and current Department of Health officials suspected of fraud and corruption were on Friday released on bail ranging between R1 000 and R3 000 by the Mankweng Magistrate’s Court.
The 20th suspect, Sipho Baloyi was remanded in custody because of another case of fraud against him. He was to appear in court again yesterday (Wednesday).
The twenty suspects were arrested by officials of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) last Thursday and their appearance before court stems from charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering following investigations by the directorate emanating from 2006. Baloyi’s fellow accused will again appear in court from 14 to 29 September according to Hawks Spokesperson, Hangwani Mulaudzi.
Baloyi was one of five Department of Health officials then based at the Sovenga Nursing Campus who were arrested by the Hawks in August 2012 in connection with fraud of R10,6 million.
Four of the persons who were arrested last Thursday are supply chain officials in the department.
A fifth accused is a former state accountant. They are charged with fraud allegedly amounting to a loss of around R13,5 million for the department. The officials allegedly formed companies with family members and friend into whose accounts the department’s money was siphoned off.
“They allegedly facilitated transactions and then enriched themselves by transferring money into the accounts of their relatives,” Mulaudzi informed.
During the period the province was under section 100 (1) (b) administration, 303 cases were handed over to the Special Investigations Unit and forensic firms for investigation.
Ninety-one cases of non-disclosure of business interests in the Department of Health were handed over for investigation at the time, according to a report to Parliament in 2013 by the National Council of Province’s Finance Committee.
Mulaudzi said this is the first case of many to come still in the province.
Story: NELIE ERASMUS