Nurses and patients at Kgapane Hospital in Bolobedu, Tzaneen, were baffled yesterday when the hospital inspector was arrested.
Prominent Tzaneen environmental health inspector Hlengani Godfrey Macheke, 50, was arrested in front of patients and colleagues yesterday over allegations of corruption.
Macheke was arrested for allegedly accepting a R4000 bribe from a local koma (initiation) school surgeon.
Macheke's arrest took place on the same day [yesterday] police reported that four initiates had died at an initiation school in Silicon outside Polokwane.
Three of the four initiates died on the way to the hospital and the fourth died on arrival at Mankweng Hospital.
Police spokesman Freddy Manaetja yesterday confirmed Macheke's arrest and said he was caught red-handed with the cash in his office at the hospital.
"Police received a tip-off from members of the public and a trap was set up. The surgeon of the school went into his (Macheke's) office and handed over the money to him and he was arrested on the spot," Manaetja said.
Manaetja said police had provided the surgeon with R4000 fake notes.
"We hope to make more arrests of some of the inspectors who were allegedly working in cahoots with him," he said.
Spokesman for the Modjadji royal family and council Clement Modjadji said the surgeon had alerted them about Macheke's demand.
He said Macheke had forced the surgeon to pay the money before close of business yesterday if he still wanted to run koma schools next year.
"He allegedly told the surgeon that if the money was not paid by yesterday, the surgeon must forget about getting a permit to run koma schools next year," said Modjadji.
According to Phuti Seloba, provincial spokesman for the department of health in Limpopo, among Macheke's duties was to inspect the environment in which the school operated and the food given to the initiates.
Seloba also said Macheke was one of the inspectors who issued permits for the koma schools.
Macheke will face a charge of corruption in the Bolobedu magistrate's court today.
"We have opened an inquest docket and investigations are continuing," said provincial police spokesman Superintendent Mohale Ramatseba.