Ex-MP in court rumpus over disputed stake in kidney clinic

Dr Bevan Goqwana. Running out of patience. / Hetty Zantman. © Financial Mail
Dr Bevan Goqwana. Running out of patience. / Hetty Zantman. © Financial Mail

A former ANC MP has been accused of locking out nurses and patients at a kidney clinic.

Bevan Goqwana‚ who chaired parliamentary committees on health and science and technology‚ is embroiled in an Mthatha high court battle with dialysis provider Alugraph about what it says is a “takeover” of the clinic in the Eastern Cape town.

Goqwana‚ a specialist physician by profession‚ allegedly locked out nurses‚ patients and clinic director Zanele Siko.

He is no stranger to controversy. He was acquitted of fraud charges in 2001 for allegedly running an ambulance service not registered with the Health Professions Council‚ and fired as Eastern Cape health MEC after a damning auditor-general probe said R18-billion had not been properly accounted for.

He was hauled before court last month after Siko filed an affidavit saying she founded the clinic with three others‚ and invited Goqwana to join as a director last July.

In his judgment on Tuesday‚ Acting Deputy Judge President Selby Mbenenge said: “The complaint central to the application is that [Goqwana] installed a key block to the main door of the premises‚ thus locking out Ms Siko and other nursing staff from being at the clinic and performing their duties.

“When concern for this action was raised with [Goqwana]‚ he removed the key block‚ paving the way for Ms Siko to perform her nursing duties on that day‚ but at the same time with [Goqwana] mentioning that Ms Siko was being seen there for the last time.

“When formal steps were taken to challenge the stance‚ [Goqwana] made it known that he had taken over and ‘should never see anyone of … other owners and employees of [Alugraph]’.”

Goqwana hit back‚ claiming Alugraph was not involved in running the clinic. In court papers‚ he said he joined the business while he was still a MP‚ supplying finance when no “financial institution was prepared to grant assistance”.

Said Mbenenge: “[Goqwana] also claims to be ... processing the medical aid claims and payments‚ with all the finances being conducted through his private bank account. [He] also entered into contracts in relation to the necessary machines or equipment [and] pays [Alugraph’s] members’ salaries.”

Goqwana denied locking out staff and patients‚ except for 10 minutes when Siko and others failed to attend a meeting about discrepancies in stocks of medication.

Mbenenge referred the matter for hearing this week‚ and Goqwana welcomed the ruling. His detractors were “abusing my kindness”‚ he said‚ and it had been proved he is “a sole proprietor”.

“Our courts are very busy but people are overburdening them unnecessarily because they know the truth. I am happy that our courts are able to separate the truth from lies‚” he said.

About his political career‚ he said: “I went to parliament because I saw that there are things I could fix‚ especially in the Eastern Cape as health MEC. When I realised that I was growing older I said‚ ‘once a doctor always a doctor’ and decided to resume practice closer to home.”