On the day that 130 Community Health Workers Appear in Bloemfontein Magistrates Court TAC Charges MEC Benny Malakoane with Corruption
The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) will today bring charges of corruption against Free State MEC for Health Benny Malakoane, Head of Free State Health Department Dr David Motau, Free State Deputy Director General for Health Teboho Moji and senior officials in the provincial Department of Health at the Park Road police station in Bloemfontein.
The charges relate to a matter first reported in the Mail & Guardian newspaper on July 4 2014. The article titled “How a dying women’s bed was taken by an ANC official” states that MEC Malakoane had ordered that an ICU bed at Dihlabeng Regional hospital should be made available to an ANC official – even though clinical guidelines did not indicate that the official should be given a bed. The Mail & Guardian quotes doctors indicating that other patients would have benefited more from access to the ICU bed. One of these patients died shortly after. The TAC has reason to believe the Mail & Guardian story is accurate.
In a separate matter MEC Malakoane appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s court on August 27th on charges of fraud and corruption relating to his time as Matjhabeng Municipal Manager. The case was postponed until November.
The new charges against Malakoane are being laid on the same day that 130 community healthcare workers (CHWs) and TAC members appear in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s court charged with having taken part in a prohibited gathering (S v Tsoaeli and 129 Others).
The 130 were arrested during a peaceful night vigil on July 10th where they protested their unfair dismissal and the province’s poor response to the collapse of the Free State healthcare system. We have still been given no satisfactory explanation as to why the 130 were arrested and incarcerated for 36 hours. We consider the arrests a disproportionate response to a peaceful, non-threatening night vigil. Now they are being charged with ‘”attending a prohibited gathering” under legislation used to prohibit such gatherings under Apartheid. Now this law is unfairly prohibiting our constitutional right to protest.
We are also conscious of the fact that while these various legal processes are playing out the crisis in the Free State healthcare system continues. “Many clinics are still without some essential medicines, surgeries are still being delayed, TB patients are sleeping in cold wards without blankets. While all this suffering is happening on his watch MEC Malakoane pretends that there is no crisis”, says Anele Yawa, TAC General Secretary.
We repeat our call to Premier Ace Magashule to dismiss MEC Malakoane and to appoint an appropriately qualified and committed person in his place.
The full charge sheet can be downloaded below.
See the following documents for background on the situation in the Free State (below):
– Fact sheet on the Free State health crisis
– Updated timeline of the Free State Health Crisis
For media comment and to arrange interviews contact:
Lotti Rutter on 081 818 8493
Mary-Jane Matsolo on 079 802 2686
Anele Yawa 079 328 1215
Sello Mokhalipi 078 927 2369