Gupta-linked head of department reinstated

North West health department head Thabo Lekalakala.
North West health department head Thabo Lekalakala.

The arbitration court has ordered the North West department of health to reinstate its embattled HOD Dr Thabo Lekalakala after he was placed on special leave pending an investigation into claims of corruption.

Lekalakala was suspended in April. When his suspension lapsed in June, he was placed on special leave. Lekalakala was accused of benefiting from the Gupta-linked Mediosa company.

He is expected to be back at work on Monday.

Health department spokesperson Tebogo Lekgethwane welcomed the arbitration's verdict, made by the Public Health and Social Development Sectoral Bargaining Council in November 8.

Lekalakala’s alleged involvement in the Mediosa contract saw provincial health department workers protesting and calling for his removal. They said they could not be led by a person linked with spending millions of rands on a Gupta mobile clinic instead of using the money to pay for their bonuses.

Lekgethwane said Lekalakala was suspended following allegations of procurement irregularities which affected a number of contracts which have since been a matter of forensic investigation. “One such contract is that of Mediosa, which has since been terminated,” Lekgethwane said.

He said there were two issues against Lekalakala - his suspension and the disciplinary action instituted against him.

Lekalakala was suspended but returned to work a day after his suspension lapsed, and then he was placed on special leave. He was suspended with full pay, but owing to the fact that allegations against him were still being investigated, he was given special leave.

Lekgethwane said the arbitration verdict which instructed the health department to reinstate Lekalakala was only concerned with the merits of the special leave. “The verdict has nothing to do with the investigations and the disciplinary actions. The department can confirm that disciplinary actions are continuing,” Lekgethwane said.

Lekgethwane said the department was still studying the verdict and will apply its mind afterwards.

Efforts to get comment from Lekalakala were unsuccessful on Tuesday.

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