The Democratic Alliance (DA) says that only 700 patients have been admitted to the Nasrec field hospital, since opening in mid-June as a facility to quarantine and care for Covid-19 patients.
Citing a presentation made to the Gauteng Legislature’s Oversight Committee on the Premier’s Office and Legislature (OCPOL), the Nasrec field hospital has to date admitted only 604 patients for quarantine and isolation, and 96 patients for intermediate care including oxygen.
“The total bed capacity is 1,500 but there were only 25 patients as at 28 August 2020. The facility has cost about R350 million in total, which means that R500,000 has been spent on each patient,” said the DA’s Jack Bloom.
“This is a colossal waste of money caused by poor judgement and probable corruption as connected people benefited from large contracts.”
The Nasrec field hospital remains operational.
The DA said that quarantine patients could easily have been accommodated at hotels, and private hospitals could have been paid to treat the 96 patients who required intermediate care.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a R500 billion Covid-19 stimulus package in April, 10% of the national gross domestic product (GDP). The country’s Covid-19 efforts quickly turned into a looting spree for connected cadres within government, particularly around the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Ramaphosa stressed in the National Assembly in August, that the amount spent by the government on PPE was approximately R11 billion.
“What has been actually spent on personal protective equipment as per the Treasury records is about R11 billion. And much of that money has gone into buying PPEs,” the president said. “As the cases [of corruption] get reported firstly to me on malfeasance, we will get to know precisely the actual amount of this malfeasance… It is not R500 billion, I needed to clarify that,” he said.
Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu singled out Gauteng as one of the provinces which dished out huge PPE tenders to companies with no track record to supply health services and equipment. Indeed, Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku was placed on leave at the end of July after being linked to a R125 million personal protective equipment deal.
“The runaway costs of the Nasrec facility are yet another reason why suspended Health MEC Bandile Masuku should be fired in addition to his failure to prevent the massive corruption in the PPE contracts,” said Bloom.
Previously, the DA noted that the Gauteng health department spent R13,000 for each bed in the Nasrec field hospital, “but could easily have bought them for less than half the price from other suppliers”.
Citing a presentation to the Gauteng Legislature’s Health Committee, The DA said that 1,000 beds with mattresses were bought for R13 million, with each bed costing R13,000.
It established that a fair price for this type of bed together with a mattress is about R5,000.
“The total cost of equipment for the Nasrec field hospital is R24.1 million, which is also likely to be about double what it should have cost. It includes, for instance, R18,000 spent on 40 wall clocks for R450 each,” it said.