Health head bullied

The head of the KZN Department of Health, Dr Musa Gumede, and his high ranking officials were held hostage by members of the Federation for Radical Economic Transformation (FFRET) on Thursday.

Members of the forum, which is an umbrella body encompassing smaller black business forums‚ including controversial outfit Delangokubona, ran amok as they ordered employees of the department to leave the department’s head office — Natalia Building — before holding Gumede and his officials hostage.

Members of the forum are known for storming construction sites and demanding stakes in tenders awarded by government.

Screams were heard as the FFRET members banged and kicked doors from the first floor until they got to the 11th floor, at Gumede’s office.

They forced Gumede to phone and put on loudspeaker MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo, and demanded that Vusi Mahlaba be re-instated as the head of supply chain management.

Mahlaba had been moved from the unit pending investigations on the irregular expenditure incurred by the department.

The group then summoned Mahlaba to the office where he signed the re-instatement letter, which the mebers of FFRET had imposed on Gumede.

Mahlaba, who was in tears and clearly shaken, demanded that all the pending investigations be stopped.

“I have been through a lot already. This is the third time that I am facing charges. I want my name to be cleared,” said Mahlaba after signing the letter which was drafted on a torn out exercise book page.

Members of FFRET said there would be trouble if Mahlaba is victimised by senior officials in the department.

FFRET president, Malusi Zondi, said since Mahlaba was moved from the unit, black business people were no longer benefiting from tenders that are awarded by the department.

“They have treated Mahlaba unfairly and we are happy that this will end today or else there will be trouble,” said Zondi.

“They have removed all black people from that unit and the unit is now dominated by other races who are changing tender specifications to exclude blacks. We want to see balance in the awarding of tenders.”

Zondi said the provincial intervention team, which has taken over procurement from the department, was not helping.

“Instead the department is losing millions to consultants,” he said.

They eventually left the building after the signing of the letter.

It was only then that police arrived at Gumede’s office.

Attempts to get comment from the Department of Health were unsuccessful.