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INCREASINGLY, the South African public wants to see
politicians working hard to earn the substantial salaries we pay them. It is
therefore particularly pleasing when high profile figures like ministers and
MECs roll up their sleeves and visibly involve themselves in ensuring that the
systems of state work properly.
We have seen Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi
getting stuck in and personally treating patients. We repeatedly see the
Minister of Transport Sbu Ndebele out manning roadblocks – as he did again this
past Easter weekend to his great credit. Buffalo City Metro is blessed with a
municipal manager, Andile Fani, who is known to do his own investigations – and
put his life at risk in the process – to get to the bottom of improper conduct
in local government.
The latest to join these ranks is Eastern Cape MEC of
health Sicelo Gqobana, who went undercover “dressed like a tsotsi” in
Port Elizabeth to establish just how easy it is to get hold of medicine stolen
from the state depots, apparently by syndicates.
In doing so the MEC put his own safety on the line –
an act worthy of praise, as is his commitment to ensuring that the poor, who
are already at the short end of sparse state medical supplies, are not further
But while the MEC is firing on all cylinders, his
great frustration has been the pace of the criminal investigation and the fact
that no arrests have been made.
Police say the investigation into the Mthatha depot
has been concluded and the docket handed to the National Prosecuting Authority.
What is happening with regard to the Port Elizabeth depot is unclear. Despite
our best efforts this newspaper was unable to obtain information from the police
about this leg of the investigation.
This is difficult to understand, particularly when the
MEC himself had no problem marching into the middle of the Port Elizabeth
off-sales for stolen medicine.
The theft of medicine is an extremely serious matter –
it can be life-threatening in some cases.
It is also no small matter – in the 2010/11 financial
year almost R5-million worth of medicine was lost as a result of theft from the
two provincial depots.
It is no secret that the police are
extremely thinly stretched, that many officers work punishing hours and that
they regularly put their lives at risk in the line of duty. Considering the
serious implications of medicine theft, it would be heartening to see their
political boss, the MEC for safety and liaison, Helen Sauls-August, or other
high profile officials, leading the raids to arrest and lock away these
Article source: http://www.dispatch.co.za/news/article/3187