Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla announced on Thursday that Department of Health (DoH) officials implicated in the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report on the Digital Vibes saga will be served with letters of suspension by the end of business today.
Phaahla said the six officials within the department, including the deputy Director-general, Dr Anban Pillay, will be placed on precautionary suspension.
The minister said six officials from the DoH and three others from the departments of Government Communication Information Systems (GCIS), Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development and Printing Works were implicated in the SIU report, which the DoH received on Wednesday.
The DoH said it is in communication with these departments to ensure that the steps taken against the implicated officials are streamlined.
Phaahla said the DoH hopes to speedily concluded the disciplinary processes, where applicable, against the implicated officials so that it can fully focus on dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, rolling out vaccines for the latter and the DoH’s “core business”.
The minister added that disciplinary measures will be taken against the implicated officials without fear, favour or prejudice.
The department is committed to clean governance, Phaahla assured, “we take this very seriously, we will tighten controls”.
The minister said the department is cognizant that implicated parties remain innocent until proven guilty.
Phaahla urged South Africans to have confidence in government, its departments and thousands of honest officials and civil servants at its employ and he assured the public that the DoH is committed to correcting this saga.
The minister apologized to all South Africans “for this very unfortunate and really devastating saga”, reiterating that decisive and thorough action will be taken.
The saga has dented the department’s image, Phaahla acknowledged, and has adversely impacted its capacity considering that Director-general Dr Sandile Buthelezi has already been suspended and now his deputy, Pillay, will be placed on precautionary suspension.
Phaahla added that the department’s capacity will be further impacted because the acting director general, Nicholas Crisp, who drives the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, will have to deal with the report.
However, Phaahla said the DoH will do its best to ensure that the delivery of health services does not suffer.
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