6 July 2016
The DA is dismayed that even the drastic shift of administrative leadership within the embattled Northern Cape Health Department has failed to see the department comply with a court order to pay outstanding legal costs to the value of R700 000 to former fax and copy service provider, Bestor CC, despite numerous warnings and the final warrant of execution having lapsed on Monday, 4th July.
By no later than tomorrow, the Sherriff of the court is expected to have removed over 240 assets from the Northern Cape Department of Health, including four Iveco ambulances (number plates: DOH-0557NC, DOH-0530NC, DOH-0490NC, CCR-408NC), 1 Philips oxygen machine and numerous other items of office furniture and equipment.
If the department still doesn’t pay within 30 days, the assets can go on auction anytime after midday on 16 August. And then the department will have to compete with members of the public to buy back its forfeited property. In the meantime, taxi and business owners are already lining up to snatch the panel van ambulances that they intend converting into taxis, as well as the office furniture and equipment, which they hope to purchase at rock bottom prices.
It will be a travesty for the Health Department to, through its own failure to meet its financial obligations, allow much needed ambulances to be converted into taxis, further reducing the province’s already skimpy emergency fleet of vehicles. Failure by the department to pay its dues will ultimately also render the Health Department’s provincial head office and the administrative section of Kimberley Hospital ineffective, as the removal of computers, printers and furniture will affect just about everything, from the timeous payment of staff on the Persal system, to the procurement of non-negotiable hospital items and effectively, service delivery.
The Bestor CC saga has already seen the department lose two out of three cases. In the first of the three cases that Bestor CC instituted against the department, they successfully sued the Health Department for R710 000 for failing to return 148 fax and copier machines to the company. The second case saw the department found liable for damages and costs, as a result of the improper termination of a maintenance contract for fax and copy machines. Bestor CC is now claiming an amount of R34,1 million from the department in this regard. This includes damages suffered, interest accrued on the damages, as well as R3,2 million in costs for legal fees incurred by the plaintiff. The quantum for this case is set to be finalized in the High Court in August this year. A third case will also be heard in the Kimberley High Court in August this year and sees Bestor CC claiming a further R8,1 million in damages for payments not received for repairs and maintenance of fax and copy machines.
The DA has been asking for an internal investigation into the matter regarding the department’s poor handling of the Bestor CC contract, since the matter came to light back in 2009 already, when the department was still under the political leadership of former MEC Mxolisi Sokatsha. Our requests have fallen on deaf ears by Sokatsha, as well as the subsequent MEC’s Mac Jack and Lebogang Motlhaping, not to mention Premier Sylvia Lucas.
If they had only addressed this matter properly back then, they could have spared the impoverished department well over R17 million in ever growing legal costs due to inflationary increases.
It’s high time that the health department is held accountable for its dismal failure to manage its contracts and finances properly. It’s just a pity that this has to be done at the expense of the delivery of health services to the poorest of the poor.
DA Northern Cape Provincial Leader
082 383 6914
Shelley De Witt
082 847 1387