by Jack Bloom MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC
The Gauteng Health Department is unable to pay all its suppliers and is desperately short of cash for vital health services, but has paid R62.2 million to law firm Mdlulwa Nkuhlu Inc since January 2016.
This huge payment is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.
According to Ramokgopa, the law firm did work for the Department that included the following:
- Urgent applications to the High Court e.g. to stop Forensic Officers from participating in an illegal mortuary strike;
• Defending the Department in about 40 medical negligence cases;
• Labour litigation and arbitration for two cases; and
• Legal audit of all matters facing the Department.
Ramokgopa says that the company got this work as part of a competitive tender but conceded that “a detailed review of the work done by this law firm must be undertaken. After this review, a determination of whether value for money was received by the GDOH will have to be made and further steps informed by the outcome of the review will have to be taken.”
I suspect that the Department has grossly overpaid for all its legal matters, including the R103 million paid to Ngcebetsha Madlanga Attorneys (NMA) for work that included an opinion on terminating the Life Esidimeni contract, and opposing the two court applications that tried to stop the transfer of mental health patients to unsuitable NGOs where 144 died.
The bills by both these law firms should be independently verified and money claimed back for any overcharging.
The Department needs to ensure that value for money is provided by all service providers so that health care is optimized for patients.