SAPS denies arresting Mpumalanga health officials.

The South African Police Service (Saps) has denied claims it arrested officials from the Mpumalanga department of health for fraud and corruption relating to a contract worth more than R600 million. The EFF in Mpumalanga recently released a statement welcoming the arrest of eight officials from the provincial department of health.

The provincial EFF had opened a fraud and corruption case at the Nelspruit police station against the officials. According to the police, no arrests have been made, although an investigation into the allegations has been launched.

“Police in Mpumalanga would like to categorically state that they did not arrest any official from the department of health as depicted in the media statement issued today by the EFF in Mpumalanga,” Mpumalanga police spokesperson, Brigadier Leonard Hlathi said in a statement.

“However it is true that there is a fraud and corruption case which has been laid by the political party at the Nelspruit police station last week and an investigation thereof is under way. The relevant complainant has been duly informed about the developments of the investigation,” said Hlathi.

Hlathi said police were obtaining statements from witnesses as part of the investigation and would approach the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in due course “for guidance on this matter”.

The EFF claimed that the eight officials – including the acting head of department, Duduzile Mdluli, chief financial officer Phaswa Mamogane and six bid evaluation and bid adjudication committee members –  were allegedly involved in the irregular appointment of a company at the provincial department.

The provincial party said the company did not meet the mandatory requirements for the tender, which was worth R648 million. The three-year contract was awarded for the outsourcing of procurement management, warehousing and distribution of pharmaceuticals and surgical sundries and the management of information.

The EFF said it had written to Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane, health MEC Sasekani Manzini and the acting head of department to intervene, but the complaint “fell on deaf ears”.

“[We] forewarned them that tampering and influencing the procurement processes using political power is dangerous and suicidal, but that fell on deaf ears,” the EFF statement said.

“The directors of the companies, Bongani Rain Maker and Osiris Health Care, are also part of the people still to be arrested for submitting a fraudulent UIF compliance certificate issued through a company that does not even exist on the CIPC (Companies and Intellectual Property Commission) system.

“The acting head of department is alleged to have signed for the awarding of the tender to the non-qualifying company even when she was cautioned by the bid adjudication committee about the non compliance of the company to key mandatory requirements in line with the bid specification and/or advertisement.”

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