Suspended Health Department head back at work but disciplinary hearing continues
Even if he is back at work – North West Health Department head will still face disciplinary hearing. Dr Thabo Lekalakala was suspended in April this year following alleged tender irregularities but the Public Health and Social Development Sectoral Bargaining Council ruled that Lekalakala must be reinstated. But the Department of Health says Lekalakala is not off the hook yet.
According to the Departmental spokesperson, Tebogo Lekgethwane, the North West Department of Health has welcomed the arbitration verdict concerning suspension of Dr Lekalakala. “It is important to remind the public and the media that Dr Lekalakala was suspended following allegations of procurement irregularities which affected a number of contracts which have since been a matter of forensic investigation. One such contract is that of Mediosa which has since been terminated”.
“There are two issues which are to be considered in this matter. First, it is the suspension of Dr Lekalakala and secondly is the disciplinary actions which the Department has already instituted against Dr Lekalakala. He was suspended and returned to work a day after his suspension lapsed earlier this year. It is also important to remember that Dr Lekalakala was not dismissed but suspended with full salary. However, owing to the fact that allegations against him were still being investigated, he was afforded special leave. The arbitration verdict which instructs the Department to reinstate Dr Lekalakala is only concerned with the merits of special leave”.
“The verdict has nothing to do with the investigations and the disciplinary actions. The Department can confirm that disciplinary actions are continuing. Dr Lekalakala has been charged with procurement irregularities and misrepresentation of facts. The Disciplinary Committee pursing this matter has already set. However, the lawyers representing Dr Lekalakala have requested postponement and therefore disciplinary proceeding will resume on the 11th and 12 December 2018”.
“Specifically on the special leave matter, the Department is still studying the verdict and applying its mind as to the way-forward. The Administrator will make recommendations to the Premier after studying the court arbitration verdict. The Department appeals to members of the public and public servants to allow the law to take its course,” said Lekgethwane in a statement.