Acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi has placed the HPCSA’s new CEO and Registrar, Dr David Motau on precautionary suspension following his appearance on Monday in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on charges of fraud, money laundering and corruption amounting to R8 million. The charges relate to his tenure as Head of the Free State Health Department from 2013 to earlier this year.

Kubayi says his suspension has been necessitated by the seriousness of the allegations and its ramifications to the health fraternity.

Dr Motau, who was appointed as HPCSA CEO and Registrar in June, was arrested over the weekend with several other officials in the Free State Health Department and company directors. Motau and two of his co-accused were released on R5000 bail each and the others on R2000 bail each. They are due to appear in court again on 22 September.

The charges relate to allegations of payments that were made to the department’s service providers between January 2011 and December 2015 with no services rendered for the payments.

Hawks spokesperson in the Free State, Phaladi Shuping, told Spotlight that Motau faces 44 counts of contravention of the Public Finance Management Act and one count of “accepting gratification”.  The fraud apparently came to light when the Auditor-General requested supporting documents from the Health Department.

After his court appearance, Dr Motau told Spotlight that he had inherited many of the problems relating to the contracts and tenders in the Free State Health Department, which the state alleges were corrupt deals, when he was appointed to the department and that he was “not aware of the alleged commission of such offences”.

He added that he is “solely being charged for being in contravention of sections in the Public Finance Management Act” and intends pleading not guilty.

The Free State Health Department has been regarded as one of the worst performing provincial health departments for years and was placed under administration from 2014 to 2018 during Dr Motau’s tenure as HOD.

The other accused in the case are Motsumi Polori and Kenosi Legobate, who are still employees of the provincial health department, and retired employees Mietjies Johns, John Chakane, Maria Mabitle, and Lebohang Beqeze. Tsietsi Polori, Thabo Moeti, Mavuso Kwababa, Simon Njonga and Charity Moloi, who were directors of the implicated companies, make up the remainder. The companies are Tsa Rona Consultancy, Azrago, Land Breeze Trading, Amakholwa Consultancy Training and Zen Communications.

At the time of his appointment as HPCSA Registrar, the Council described him as a well-respected leader with an exceptional track record. HPCSA President Professor Simon Nemutandani said at the time that “based on his wealth of experience, the Council was confident that Dr Motau was qualified to steer the organisation in the desired direction”.