A forensic administration found that executives of the Government Employees Medical Scheme, which is positioning itself to administer the National Health Insurance fund, have engaged in tender rigging, fraud, maladministration and corruption totalling more than R300m, reports News24.
* See Editor's Alert, below
The accusations of graft at GEMS are detailed in a series of 10 forensic reports which show that over a period of five years the scheme had appointed and paid more than R300m to companies in which some of its executives had direct financial interests.
This comes at a time when South Africans are expressing concerns that the NHI will crash under the weight of corruption, like many other state-owned entities. GEMS has emerged as one of the frontrunners likely to be appointed by the government to administer the NHI.
News24 reports that following a tip-off, in May 2017 GEMS appointed Ligwa Advisory Services, a firm of independent auditors, to investigate allegations of fraud and corruption in a number of contracts entered into between the scheme and a number of companies between 2012 and 2017.
In January 2018, Ligwa presented GEMS with a series of hard-hitting forensic reports accusing former executives, in particular Bhelekazi "Bella" Mfenyana and her boyfriend, Thabiso Duda, Dr Guni Goolab and Liziwe Nkonyana, of wrongdoing. Goolab, who left GEMS at the end of January last year, was the scheme's principal officer, while Mfenyana and Nkonyana, who both left in April 2017, were respectively contracts manager and communications executive.
The News24 report says Ligwa, who had also conducted lifestyle audits on some of GEMS' executives, had uncovered irregularities and possible fraud and corruption in the appointments and payments made to various business entitites.
Both Mfenyana and Duda declined to comment.
According to News24, GEMS spokesperson Dr Phumelela Dhlomo said GEMS has been quite transparent in dealing with all issues emanating from Ligwa's reports.
Dhlomo said: “Lifestyle audits were conducted by the scheme against the affected employees and executives. Initial investigations revealed that some members of the GEMS executive team and staff members were implicated in the alleged tender irregularities with certain contracts. Internal disciplinary proceedings were followed, and Ms Mfenyana was among the executives who were implicated in these irregularities. She resigned from the scheme at the commencement of her disciplinary process.”
* Editor's Alert:
This News24 report has been changed following republication in MedicalBrief. The original version listed a number of companies allegedly implicated in the forensic report, including Smoke Customer Intelligence (Pty) Ltd (“Smoke CI”).
Following representations of Smoke CI's attorneys, News24 has redacted any mention of Smoke CI from its report. Consequently, so too has MedicalBrief and apologises unreservedly to Smoke CI.
[link url="https://www.news24.com/news24/southafrica/investigations/web-of-fraud-and-corruption-uncovered-at-gems-20210222"]Full News24 report (Restricted access)[/link]