Claims of fraud levelled against chief of health

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

The Police's Commercial Crime Unit has initiated a probe into allegations of fraud and corruption against embattled KwaZulu-Natal Health HOD Busi Nyembezi.

Police spokesman Director Phindile Hadebe confirmed yesterday that the unit is investigating fraud and corruption charges against Nyembezi.

"We opted to initiate our own investigation to get to the bottom of the matter. There have been allegations of fraud against Nyembezi circulated in the media in the past few weeks," said Hadebe.

She was unable to provide further information or details on the nature of the investigation.

Sowetan has reported on the fraud allegations against Nyembezi estimated at R15million.

Documents addressed to the KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Sbu Ndebele, as well as other government watchdog bodies, allege that Nyembezi had a hand in approving tenders of more than R15 million to her company Harembe Institute of Transformation and its associates, since 2004.

Prior to her full-time employment as HOD in the department of Health, Nyembezi was a consultant for the department from 2000.

Matters within the department came to a head on August 29 when Health MEC Peggy Nkonyeni called for a meeting with Ndebele, requesting his assistance to sort out things between her and Nyembezi.

Ndebele's office initiated an independent probe into the relationship issue as well as other human resource conflicts affecting staff in the department.

Leading law firm Strauss Daly was appointed to investigate the matter. The probe has since been broadened to include other matters relating to the latest document that alleges fraud and corruption on the part of Nyembezi.

The probe also focused on the exodus of senior staff who worked for former MEC Zweli Mkhize from the department and who were allegedly fired by Nyembezi.

It also probed the overspending of about R4,7million in the last financial year.

The investigation was to have been completed on Friday. It has now been extended as senior managers within the department said they were only interviewed yesterday.

All senior staff, including Nkonyeni, had been instructed by Ndebele's office to give investigators their full cooperation.

Fresh details about matters affecting the department are expected to be provided at a provincial cabinet briefing in Pietermaritzburg today.

Attempts to get hold of Nyembezi proved fruitless.

Sowetan has learnt that Nyembezi was sent on "compulsory leave" by Ndebele's office.