CALUSA & MR B HOLOMISA JOINT COMPLAINT TO THE OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC PROTECTOR

CALUSA & MR B HOLOMISA JOINT COMPLAINT TO THE OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC PROTECTOR

3rd July 2020 Cala History and Community Calusa Education 0

The Office of the Public Protector

Private Bag X677, PRETORIA

0001

03 July 2020

Dear Advocate Mkhwebane

Investigating irregularities in decision to move patients to Mioca Lodge and non-compliance with disaster management regulations
 
  1. CALUSA is a developmental non-governmental organisation based in Cala, within the jurisdiction of the Sakhisizwe Local Municipality, Eastern Cape (“the Municipality”). CALUSA is also mandated by structures such as the Cala Ratepayers’ Association, Elliot Residence Association and Siyazakha Land and Development Forum (“collectively referred to as a Forum”)to file this complaint.
  1. The Complaint is written In Terms Of Section 6(1) (A) Public Protector Act for the office of the Public Protector to investigate whether the decisions taken by the Eastern Cape Provincial Executive between the 15 and 17th April 2020 in moving patients to a Lodge that is owned by the daughter of MEC of Transport Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe constituted abuse of power, improper conduct and improperly benefiting.
History of the complaint
  1. On the evening of the 15th April 2020, it came to the attention of the Forum that about 18 Covid-19 patients were being accommodated at Mioca lodge in Cala Reserve (Quarantine Site), just 3 km outside Cala.
  1. It was later found out that the Mioca Lodge that accommodated those patients was co-owned by the daughter MEC of Transport in the Eastern Cape Weziwe Tikana Gxothiwe and the MEC herself. The court in Weziwe Tikana Gxothiwe v Bantu Holomisa[1] found that the MEC is the true owner of the lodge and have substantial interest in it. The judgement is attached to the complaint.
  1. The Premier of the Eastern Cape despite the judgement has indicated that they won’t be taking any steps against the MEC despite the findings by the Honourable Judge Bloem.
Steps that the Forum has taken thus far
  1. On the 16th April, the Forum wrote a letter to the Eastern Cape Provincial Executive, the Minister of Health, the Chris Hani District and Sakhisizwe Local Municipalities raising, among others two issues, clarity as to why the decision to quarantine the Covid-19 patients in the Lodge was taken without prior consultation with at least the villagers of Cala Reserve on the one hand and also seek clarification about the processes and procedure that was followed by the Provincial Government in choosing the Mioca Lodge. A copy of the letter is attached herewith.
  1. We are yet to receive a response from the Office of the Premier and MEC of Health. The Minister of Health acknowledged the receipt of the letter.
  1. Subsequently to our submission of the letter seeking reasons and explanations about the quarantine site. On 17 April, the Premier of the Eastern Cape instructed the MEC of Health and Public works to relocate the patients to Glen Grey hospital in Cacadu (formerly Lady Frere).
  1. We are of the view that the removal of these patients was necessitated by the letter that we wrote and public and demonstrations and protests by villages themselves.
  1. The act of relocating the patients was not construed as responding to the issues that we raised in our letter dated 16 April 2020 namely; taking decisions without consulting those who are directly affected and, secondly the processes and procedures followed in choosing the Mioca Lodge as a quarantine site.
  1. United Democratic Movement Leader, Mr Bantu Holomisa, wrote a letter to the Premier on 15 May 2020 seeking clarity on whether the Eastern Cape executive took the decision to quarantine the patients in Mioca and requested access to information such as invoices and proof of payment for costs incurred in the execution of the decision. The letter by Mr Bantu Holomisa is attached.
  1. We are of the view that Public officials and State institutions exist to protect the public, more so when the country is faced with a pandemic and declaration in terms of the National Disaster Management act. They have to ensure that our rights as the community of Sakhisizwe are properly served, advanced and protected. The administration only exists for that purpose. We are therefore of the view that  the Office of Public Protector;
    • Has to conduct an investigation because it is important for the resources of the state to be spent wisely and easily account for them during the era the pandemic;
  • We have written to all the relevant departments and we have not received any response;
  • The Office is ideally and constitutionally mandated to investigate cases where there is abuse of power and improper enrichment of state officials from state resources ; and
  • The forum has exhausted all the available avenues to demand accountability and transparency as robustly as it could.
The Investigation by the Office of the Public Protector

 

We hereby request your office to investigate and take appropriate remedial action on the following:

  1. Whether the MEC of Health failed to play her co-ordinating role in line with section 125(2)(e) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996;
  1. Whether all the processes were followed in awarding Mioca lodge the contract to be a quarantine site despite the lodge being owned by a colleague Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe. Investigate whether this process complied with the section 217 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa;
  1. Whether the decision not to consult the affected community in decision-making which materially affect their lives did constitute an abuse of power;
  1. How much Mioca lodge was paid for the services rendered to the Department of Public Works and Health and whether they did not improperly enrich themselves?
  1. Whether the Premier misled the public with his statement that the Mioca Lodge had rendered the services for free.[2]
  1. In your investigation, we would appreciate it if your office to take into consideration the judgement of the Grahamstown High Court which found that it is “probable that the MEC of Transport was either the owner or held a substantial benefit in the Mioca Lodge in Cala, which the Eastern Cape government had decided to use as a quarantine site for people who tested positive for Covids-19 in the area.”[3]

We hope you find this in order and sufficient to commence an investigation into the matter. Yours sincerely,

Complaint lodged jointly by CALUSA and Mr Bantu Holomisa (MP)

                                                                                                                                                                 

[1] Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe v Bantu Holomisa (890/2020) [2020] ZAECGHC 54 (2 June 2020) at para 18-28.

[2] Oscar dismisses nepotism claims over Cala quarantine B&B owned by MEC’s daughter,

see https://www.dispatchlive.co.za/news/20200418oscarsaystheresnothingwrongwithmecsdaughtergettingcovid19quarantinegig/

[3] Tikana-Gxotiwe v Holomisa (890/2020) [2020] ZAECGHC 54 (2 June 2020)

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