The Special Investigating Unit (SIU), in collaboration with other law enforcement units, has launched the National Health Anti-Corruption Forum to curb fraud, waste and abuse in the sector.
According to the SIU, the health sector has been prioritised for investigation due to its susceptibility to corruption.
Speaking to the media in Pretoria earlier today, Head of the Special Investigating Unit, Advocate Andy Mothibi, said the health sector has been identified as one of the risk sectors.
According to Mothibi, activities taking place in the sector include fraudulent claims by doctors, pharmaceutical companies inflating prices, hijacking of ambulances and attacks on paramedics, among other things.
“Health plays a very important role in our lives. We are starting with the Health Sector because it has an impact on the lives of people,” he said.
Mothibi explained that prior to taking the decision to investigate corruption in the sector, an assessment was made and it was agreed that focus should be on the sector.
He said together with other stakeholders, they are still going to discuss the risk categories.
According to Mothibi, the research has shown that there is fraudulent claims, absenteeism and over-billing by the service providers.
“We would like to improve the environment especially in the areas where there is fraud,” he said.
However, Mothibi said they have not yet identified any hospitals to be investigated.
In his earlier presentation, Mothibi said apart from the Health Sector, focus is also on the local government, construction, mining, transport and the finance sector.
The SIU was established in terms of the Special Investigating Units and Special Tribunal Act 74 of 1996.
The mission of the SIU is to investigate serious malpractices or maladministration in the administration of the state with integrity, as well as any conduct which may seriously harm the interests of the public, and instituting and conducting civil proceedings in any court of law or a Special Tribunal in its own name or on behalf of state institutions.
Mothibi said as the Investigating Unit, they have the powers to summon individuals to account and where there is a need, they recommend arrest and prosecution.
Other law enforcement agencies involved in the Health Sector Anti-Corruption Forum includes the Hawks, the South African Revenue Services, the National Prosecuting Authority, the South African Police Service and the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta).