MEC 'paid three times more for cancer device'

Canaan Mdletshe

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for health Neliswa Peggy Nkonyeni made a brief appearance in the Pietermaritzburg regional court to face charges of corruption.

Nkonyeni appeared yesterday with her two co-accused, Lindelani Mkhwanazi and Mduduzi Ntshangase.

Mkhwanazi, a businessman and Nkonyeni's boyfriend, is facing charges of corruption and fraud.

The fraud charge relates to the purchase of a mammogram screening machine at an allegedly inflated cost of R1,5 million from Mkhwanazi's Rowmoor Investment by the health department.

The machine actually costs R500000.

The three appeared before magistrate Christopher van Veerun.

Ntshangase, a health department employee, is charged with fraud and the contravention of section 86 of Public Finance Management Act.

The three were arrested yesterday morning.

Hein van der Merwe of the prosecution team told the court: "Accused one (Nkonyeni) is charged with contravening section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, and accused two (Mkhwanazi) is facing two charges of corruption and fraud, while accused three (Ntshangase) is facing a charge of fraud."

Nkonyeni and Mkhwanazi were granted bail of R10000 each, while Ntshangase's bail was set at R5000.

The state set conditions that the three should not interfere in any way with investigations and that they should not be in contact with the three witnesses.

The key witnesses in the case that is set to blow the lid off the awarding of a contract for the expensive mammogram screening machine are Andile Zondo, Malcolm Pieters and Busi Ndaba.

All three work for the health department. The case was postponed to January 22 next year.