SIU granted 30-day extension in North West health dept probe

The Special Tribunal has granted a 30-day extension to allow the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to secure a presidential proclamation to investigate allegations of financial irregularities in the North West health department, a spokesperson said.

The extension was granted on Monday in an urgent court application heard virtually, the spokesperson for the tribunal, Selby Makgotho, told News24 on Tuesday.

The order was initially granted in July when the Special Tribunal halted a pension payment of about R2 million to former health boss Thabo Lekalakala.

Makgotho said the SIU was directed to investigate alleged financial irregularities into several health contracts that occurred during Lekalakala's tenure.

Makgotho said in the urgent application, which was heard on Monday, that "the SIU conceded it could not obtain the proclamation within the prescribed period as per the initial order and that they requested further 30 days to finalise the process. Dr Lekalakala did not oppose the application for extension".

The president of the Special Tribunal, Judge Gidfonia Makhanya, granted the extension.

"The order further directs the SIU, upon receipt of the proclamation, to proceed and finalise the investigations against the various contracts, estimated at R30 million, entered into by Dr Lekalakala, within 60 days," Makgotho said.

"The SIU was further directed that, as soon as the investigations have been completed, they should institute civil recovery proceedings in the Special Tribunal within 20 days."

Lekalakala was dismissed from his employment following protracted disciplinary processes.

The initial order, granted by Judge Thina Siwendu on 10 July, interdicted the Government Employee Pension Fund from paying out his R2 million pension benefit.

"Judge Makhanya impressed upon the SIU to expedite the investigation process and approach the Special Tribunal for civil recovery proceedings."

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