The National Health Laboratory Service (“NHLS”) dismisses suspended Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer


MEDIA STATEMENT

The National Health Laboratory Service (“NHLS”) dismisses suspended Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer.
 
The National Health Laboratory Service has today terminated the employment of its suspended Chief Executive Officer, Ms Joyce Mogale and Chief Financial Officer, Mr Sikhumbuzo Zulu following the conclusion of their disciplinary hearing.
 
In September 2017 the suspended CEO and CFO failed in their application to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to set aside their suspension and/or to declare it suspension unlawful.
 
They had been on suspension since February 2017 in a disciplinary process marred by a series of delay tactics and legal technicalities by the suspended employees. The NHLS also terminated the services of its representing attorneys in order to instruct new attorneys who could expedite the hearing process. Furthermore, Mr Osborne Molatudi the initial independent chair decided 18 days into the enquiry to recuse himself from the matter, requiring a new independent chair to be appointed. The enquiry continued before the new chairperson on 29 January 2019.
 
In essence, the CEO and CFO were charged with irregularities and failure to fulfil their duties in relation to 3 procurements, totalling approximately R200 million. The charges related to exceeding delegations of authority, irregular payments made to service providers and irregular appointment of service providers.
 
The Chairperson of the disciplinary hearing, Adv Nazeer Cassim, SC on 30 April 2019 delivered his findings and ruling. He concluded that both the suspended employees were guilty of misconduct. To quote from the judgement “In the circumstances of this case, it suffices for summary dismissal. They breached the trust vested in them by their employer. They acted contrary to their duty of good faith, contravened the law and the employer’s SCM (Supply Chain Management) Policy. They plunged their employer in serious financial prejudice. No employer can be expected to put up with their conduct.
 
The Chairperson recommended the following:
  1. Ms Joyce Mogale and Mr Sikhumbuzo Zulu must forthwith be dismissed;
  2. The NHLS should issue a publication of their ineptitude in doing work which requires implementation of tender law, i.e. they are not fit for any senior office which involves money matters;
  3. The NHLS should institute legal proceedings to recover the irregular expenditure.
 
The NHLS Board met on 1 May to consider the ruling and recommendations of the Chairperson. The above recommendations were adopted by the Board and the services of Ms Mogale and Mr Zulu were terminated with immediate effect.
 
When the Board first became aware of the procurement irregularities, they were reported to the Chief Procurement Officer in the National Treasury and charges were laid with the SAPS. The Board also requested the Special Investigation Unit to investigate these matters. The Board trusts that this will lead to all those involved in the corruption facing civil and criminal liability.
 
Since suspending the CEO and CFO, the NHLS has progressed positively, turning around a ~R1,8 billion accounting deficit in the 2016/17 financial year to record a surplus of ~R1,2 billion in 2107/18.
 
Ends.
 
Issued by Professor Eric Buch, Chairperson of the Board of the NHLS
 
For media enquiries contact:
Prof Eric Buch
Available from 8pm Thursday 2 May
WhatsApp messages or calls on 083 391 6962 or
Email: Eric.Buch@up.ac.za

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