Tembisa Hospital CEO heads to court over suspension, ombud's Lethole report

A damning report by Health Ombudsman Malekgapuru Makgoba found that the Tembisa facility administered sub-standard care to Shonisani Lethole - a man who died at the hospital days after complaining about its conditions.

FILE: Tembisa Hospital. Picture: Louise McAuliffe/Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG - Chief executive officer (CEO) of Tembisa Tertiary Hospital, Lekopane Mogaladi, on Tuesday stated he would be taking his battle to remain in charge of the hospital to court.

A damning report by Health Ombudsman Malekgapuru Makgoba found that the Tembisa facility administered sub-standard care to Shonisani Lethole - a man who died at the hospital days after complaining about its conditions.

The Gauteng Department of Health then issued Mogaladi with a notice that he would be placed on suspension. The department gave Mogaladi five working days to explain why he should not be placed on suspension.

READ: Lethole's death: Tembisa Hospital CEO must not 'interfere with the process'

In a statement issued through a PR company, Mogaladi said he was treated unfairly.

"Dr Mogaladi’s legal team has served the minister of health, Health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba and the Gauteng health department with appeal papers regarding the report into the death of Shonisani Lethole."

The statement added that Mogaladi had submitted written representations to the department explaining why there was no rational cause to proceed with disciplinary action against him.

"The department had proceeded to serve Dr Mogaladi with the notice of suspension despite a letter from his legal team warning them not rush into taking such decisions against him based on the recommendations of this unfounded report," the statement read.

ALSO READ: Lethole's family vow fight for overhaul of Tembisa Hospital

The Health Ombudsman revealed how Lethole was starved for more than 100 hours and recommended that action be taken against all 19 staff members implicated. At that time Mogaladi said he would be challenging the report, saying the hospital was not able to cross-examine evidence and that the report was one-sided. Makgoba also found gross negligence at the hands of medical staff there and recommended accountability.

"Furthermore, it makes absolutely no sense why the department would rush to take such action despite being informed of his intention to appeal the report," Mogaladi's statement added.

Mogaladi said he found it "shocking" that the hospital already had an interim CEO in place.

"Appointing an interim CEO without considering Dr. Mogaladi's representation shows that the department had already made up its mind about suspending him. This is unfair and against the labour laws of South Africa," the statement continued.

The statement also said that the Ombudsman disregarded evidence and failed to give the CEO an opportunity to make representations "as prescribed by law".

"The findings of the report insofar as they relate to Dr Mogaladi should be set aside. Dr Mogaladi remains resolute in his mission to set the record straight by upholding the truth through legal channels. The report by the health Ombudsman made irrational findings that could not be substantiated through evidence thus subjecting him to unfairness."

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