Our hero this week is the Gauteng health department which, last week, dismissed 18 employees for various transgressions ranging from corruption, absenteeism, unauthorised use of an official vehicle, and theft of medicines.

In 2013 we reported that in recent years the department has been beset with various problems, from mismanagement of funds to fraud and misconduct by hospital health care workers. It is not the only department struggling with this problem, and in November 2014 at the Gauteng Anti-Corruption Summit, public officials, civil society, the private business sector and members of the public participated in helping to draw up an anti-corruption strategy for the Gauteng provincial government that looks at corruption in a holistic manner.

The Gauteng health department is already taking action – in a media statement it said it would not tolerate any dishonest conduct from any of its employees.

Hospital ward

The Gauteng health department is making an attempt to eliminate corruption in its ranks. Photo: Joba Matsheng, Health-e News.

“Government has a duty to proactively promote a culture of honesty and good governance, which will in turn lead to effective and efficient service delivery,” said Gauteng MEC for health, Qedani Mahlangu. “This requires a public service that is professional, ethical and performs its duties and tasks with integrity.”

The dismissed employees range from Emergency Medical Services personnel, going absent without official leave (AWOL) with an ambulance, to a messenger who stole schedule four medicines and misappropriation of milk meant for patients.

The dismissed employees had committed the following offences, according to the department:

  • 8 for cases of theft, fraud and corruption
  • 2 for stealing cash (R10 000)
  • 1 going AWOL with an ambulance
  • 1 unauthorised use of government vehicle
  • 1 absenteeism
  • 1 taking part on an illegal strike
  • 1 not reporting an accident while using government car
  • 1 stealing schedule four medicines
  • 1 stealing three cell phones and consistent absenteeism, and
  • 1 embezzlement of milk.

The dismissed were employed in various healthcare facilities in Gauteng, including Kalafong Hospital, Dr Yusuf Dadoo Hospital, Sebokeng Hospital, Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, SG Laurens Nursing College, Emergency Medical Services and Helen Joseph Hospital, among others.

“The citizenry has entrusted a huge responsibility on this government; to look after all assets that facilitate service delivery; be it a government car, a cell phone, or milk in our kitchen,” Mahlangu said.

However, we can’t help but ask the question – why only 18 employees? We trust that this is just the tip of the iceberg.