- A former assistant state attorney of a Gauteng health MEC, two others, and a private company were ordered to pay back over R4 million in allegedly fraudulent medical negligence claims.
- This follows an order by the Special Tribunal of the SIU, which has also referred the matter to the NPA for possible prosecution.
- The SIU’s purpose is to recover government funds alleged to have been misappropriated.
A trusted former state attorney for a Gauteng health MEC, her sister, another woman, and a private company have been ordered to pay back more than R4 million allegedly fraudulently paid out under the guise of it being related to medical negligence claims for children born with cerebral palsy.
This follows an order by the Special Tribunal of the Special Investigating Unit, which recovers allegedly misappropriated government money and assets.
Spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said the matter had also been referred to the National Prosecuting Authority for separate consideration of whether there should be a prosecution.
He said that, on 4 May, the tribunal had ruled that former assistant state attorney Nosipho Zibani, Yolanda Tebogo Hlatshwayo, Phindile Zibani and Ntandokazi Trading must return R4 452 351.81, and a further R135 000 in allegedly fraudulent claims and damages, to the Gauteng Health MEC.
A total of R798 939.34 will be paid over to the SIU from Nosipho Sibani’s pension with the Government Employees Pension Fund. The SIU obtained a preservation order for the pension benefits on 10 October 2020, pending the finalisation of the legal action.
Nosipho Zibani worked for the State Attorney in Johannesburg as an assistant state attorney in the medical negligence department. She was the attorney of record for the health MEC.
According to the statement, the SIU investigation revealed that, between 2016 and 2017, Nosipho and her sister Phindile Zibani, and Hlatshwayo, had entered into an oral agreement to defraud the MEC via the medico-legal schemes.
Hlatshwayo issued invoices to the State Attorney in matters assigned to Nosipho as the attorney of record for the MEC when Hlatshwayo did not render such services.
The invoices were purportedly concerning midwife medico-legal services Hlatshwayo rendered.
“In this capacity, Nosipho was the attorney of record for the MEC in matters in which the MEC is cited as the defendant where various plaintiffs instituted action against the MEC for the alleged negligent conduct of medical health professionals working in public health institutions, resulting in a child being born with cerebral palsy.
“A probe into the State Attorney’s accounting department shows nine fraudulent invoices amounting to R4.4 million by Ntandokazi Trading, which were authorised and paid by the former assistant state attorney. The findings prompted the launch of disciplinary proceedings against Nosipho. She resigned from the office of the State Attorney before the disciplinary proceedings commenced,” said Kganyago.
‘Corruption fighting efforts are bearing fruit’
The Special Tribunal also ordered that they were jointly and severally ordered to pay the legal costs on the scale between attorney and client, including costs of two counsel.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura welcomed the order that they pay back the money with interest.
He said the partnership showed they were committed to fighting corruption and promoting clean governance.
His spokesperson Vuyo Mhaga said the Gauteng government had signed a memorandum of understanding with the SIU, and this allowed the Office of the Premier to refer serious allegations relating to the affairs of any institution in the provincial government to the SIU.
Kganyago said the balance of the money would be recovered from the others by attaching assets such as houses.
He said the Special Tribunal’s order carried the weight required for this, so a separate court application to attach those assets was not necessary.
A recent court judgment showed the complexities of claims relating to cerebral palsy, and the assessments that must be made before determining how best to support a child, particularly with a severe case, into adulthood.