The Pretoria High Court has reserved judgment in former Gauteng Health MEC Dr. Bandile Masuku’s application to have the findings of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) against him declared irrational, illegal, and unlawful.
In October last year, Gauteng Premier David Makhura fired Masuku after the SIU found that he had failed in his duty to conduct oversight on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) tenders worth R125 million.
Masuku had been tasked with fixing the dysfunctional health department which was rocked by corruption and procurement irregularities.
Advocate William Mukhari argued on behalf of Masuku that the SIU relied on hearsay and not evidence, to conclude that Masuku had failed to perform his oversight duties.
“The case is two-fold; the SIU gathered no evidence which concluded their findings. They made sweeping statements that they have been told that the MEC wants his own people but didn’t interview relevant people.”
He says the adverse findings of the SIU questioned Masuku’s dignity and reputation and they should be set aside.
“The findings … they stand as an albatross on his neck for the rest of his life. And if he does not set them aside it means he has no recourse anywhere. They will remain the findings against the applicant and if the applicant doesn’t do anything with them they will continue to impugn his dignity and reputation.”
Gauteng Premier David fires Health MEC Bandile Masuku:
Mukhari told the court the procurement of PPE was not Masuku’s domain and he, therefore, was familiar with the procurement of the protective equipment. But as soon as he became aware of irregularities, he launched an investigation.
Mukhari says as a statutory body, the SIU findings are susceptible to judicial scrutiny and review.
Advocate Vincent Maleka for the SIU argued that Masuku, as the co-chair of the Gauteng Provincial Command Council on COVID-19, was actively involved in the procurement of PPE in Gauteng.
“There was a clear failure of leadership on his part and there was a clear failure of accountability on his part. We submit that there is clear evidence, including annexures introduced by the applicant in his own filing affidavits, which shows knowledge of procurement relating to PPE’s.”
He dismissed the claim that the findings were not based on facts.
“It is not for the SIU to assess whether or not the hearsay statement made by the CFO would be admissible in legal proceedings. That is a matter which the lawyers in subsequent matters will determine. But the SIU could not ignore that evidence even if it’s hearsay because its statutory duty was to investigate and collect evidence and it did so.”
Maleka argued that Masuku entered into a contractual agreement when he took over the department and that he would deal with the inadequacies within the department and was, therefore, well aware of what was going on.
Maleka says now he cannot try to hide behind other officials. Judgment has been reserved.
Masuku has consistently rejected the preliminary report. His lawyer Mohalefa Motalane explains: