Former Wits Dean implicated in R18m laboratory scandal

Former Wits Dean implicated in R18m laboratory scandalPatient testing for HIV

The Hawks are investigating a former Wits University Dean and National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) head for his alleged role in the laboratory’s procurement of HIV testing kits worth R18-million that never arrived.

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Wadee, was allegedly responsible for ordering between 13 and 26 testing kits each month from a company, S A Cosmetics, at a cost of R3 353 per kit.
Wadee, was allegedly responsible for ordering between 13 and 26 testing kits each month from a company, S A Cosmetics, at a cost of R3 353 per kit.

The Hawks are investigating a former Wits University Dean and National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) head for his alleged role in the laboratory’s procurement of HIV testing kits worth R18-million that never arrived.

According to a joint investigation by Health-e News and Corruption Watch, Wadee’s dismissal was linked to his involvement in the orders of rapid HIV testing kits to the value of R18-million over 10 years.

Wadee, who at one point was the head of pathology at the NHLS, was allegedly responsible for ordering between 13 and 26 testing kits each month from a company, S A Cosmetics, at a cost of R3 353 per kit.

Officials at the laboratory service picked up irregularities in an order placed in January last year and launched an internal and external forensic investigation.

NHLS investigates

Among the irregularities found were that payments were processed before delivery notes were received and that notes on each of the purchase orders stated that they should be emailed directly to Wadee and not to the NHLS.

[quote float=”right”]“After disciplinary proceedings, Wadee’s employment with the NHLS was terminated,”

The NHLS’s brand manager, Vusi Langa, said Wadee was suspended on 8 August 2013, “pending the outcome of internal investigations and external forensic investigations, for alleged fraudulent activities”.

After disciplinary proceedings, Wadee’s employment with the NHLS was terminated, said Langa, who added that the case was then referred to the Hawks and “that the matter is currently still under due processes of investigation”.

“The NHLS prides itself in its seven-year consecutive unqualified audit report status, attributed to its stands for zero tolerance against corruption and financial misconduct,” added Langa.

According to police sources, the NHLS’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Sagie Pillay, has made a statement in which he accused Wadee of colluding with S A Cosmetics in the ordering of the rapid HIV testing kits that he claims were never delivered.

However, Hawks spokesman Captain Paul Ramaloko would not comment on this statement but confirmed that their Johannesburg Commercial Crimes Unit was investigating charges of fraud.

“I can confirm that we are investigating certain individuals,” said Ramaloko, declining to name the individuals.

However, an investigation by Health-e News and Corruption Watch found that Wadee is central to the investigation.

Wadee declines to comment

A police source, who cannot be named as he is not mandated to speak to the media, said investigators at the Hawks were waiting for outstanding documents, including South African Revenue Service statements, before referring the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions for a decision on prosecution.

Health-e News contacted Wadee for comment via email on 28 October and follow up phone calls were made to confirm Wadee had received the questions. Six days later, his lawyer Paul Leisher responded, saying Wadee declined to comment.

“We wish to state that we do not intend responding in detail thereto and our client has no intention whatsoever of answering any questions as requested by yourselves,” said Leisher.

Wadee’s lawyers also threatened to approach the high court for an urgent interdict to prevent Health-e News from publishing any article that had not been approved by Wadee prior to publication.

[quote float=”right”]“ The supply of the testing kits was done in the normal course of business,”

S A Cosmetics director Suliman Abed referred Health-e News’ questions to his lawyer, Ismail Ayob, who said a the company was defending a civil summons issued by the laboratory service. A full set of documents were sent to laboratory service last year, Ayob said.

“These documents reflect a complete and comprehensive proof of the defence by Mr Abed and S A Cosmetics,” said Ayob, adding that Abed was not aware of the criminal investigation.

Ayob further denied allegations that the kits were irregularly procured and that they were never delivered.

“The supply of the testing kits was done in the normal course of business,” Ayob said. “The kits were supplied and receipt recorded on each delivery”.

Eight months ago, following Wadee’s dismissal, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi ordered an investigation into financial maladministration in the entire laboratory service. – Health-e News Service.

*To report incidents of corruption to Corruption Watch, call 0800 023 456 or email [email protected]

An edited version of this story first appeared on the front page of the 6 November edition of The Star newspaper as well as editions of the Pretoria News and the Mercury newspapers.