by Jack Bloom MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC
Ngcebetsha Madlanga Attorneys (NMA), a law firm that was paid R103 million from the Gauteng Health Department, also got R59 million for work done for the Department of Infrastructure Development (DID) which was previously headed by former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu as well.
This has been revealed by Premier David Makhura in a written reply to my questions concerning all money paid to NMA by provincial departments since January 2013.
Qedani Mahlangu was Infrastructure Development MEC from July 2012 to April 2014, following which she became Health MEC and resigned in February 2017 as a result of the Life Esidimeni tragedy.
According to the reply, NMA did frequent work for DID, including numerous advisory opinions and the drafting of Service Level Agreements.
NMA charged the following amounts for legal services for three separate disciplinary cases:
- R2 million
- R1.7 million
- R1.1 million
This totals R4.8 million and seems really excessive.
Other amounts charged also look like a rip-off, including R7.3 million to do an audit of all litigation since DID split from the Department of Public Works and Transport in 2009, and R1.9 million for legal advice on a forensic report.
According to DID MEC Jacob Mamabolo, NMA was appointed in November 2012 as part of a Panel of Attorneys tender, and “there was no quotation and NMA Attorneys were paid for actual work done. This is a professional service that is billed on a time and cost basis.”
I find it highly suspicious that NMA were Qedani Mahlangu’s personal lawyers before she was called to testify at the Esidimeni Arbitration Hearings, and they did very lucrative legal work, totaling R162 million, for two provincial departments that she has headed as MEC. They have not done work for any other provincial department.
Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa has said that NMA’s bills are being reviewed for possible overcharging, and DID MEC Jacob Mamabolo should also refer their bills to the Law Society for a professional assessment.
There should be an independent inquiry into the appointment of this law firm and every effort should be made to recover money for any inflated bills.