Johannesburg - The Gauteng health department has had more of its furniture seized to settle debts owed to companies, the DA said on Tuesday.
"The furniture removal man said he has got instructions to take what he has to take. There's chairs, computers, fans and there is even a fridge. It is ridiculous," DA Gauteng spokesperson for health Jack Bloom said.
Bloom said the DA was still unsure which company had been granted the summons by the Sheriff of the Court to attach the assets.
Bloom said he received information from Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa who was replying to a question at a sitting of the legislature on Tuesday. Ramokgopa said the department owed 1 576 companies more than R3.7bn.
"You've got a situation here where hundreds of companies are not paid. There are lawyers looking for payments for medical negligence. I can't tell you exactly who is behind this one," Bloom said.
According to Bloom, the Sheriff is a regular visitor to the department.
Phone lines cut
In August, the Sheriff of the Court removed two truckloads of furniture to force payment of R6.2m for medical negligence.
The equipment included 400 computers, 50 printers, 400 desks, 600 chairs, 200 filing cabinets, 10 fridges, 10 microwaves and three lounge suites.
Bloom said at the time that the action was brought by O Joubert Attorneys, acting on behalf of a child who suffered brain damage when she was born at the Pholosong Hospital in December 2009.
READ: Sheriff seizes '2 truckloads' of furniture, equipment from Gauteng health dept - DA
In September, Telkom cut telephone lines to the Gauteng health department's head office for outstanding payments.
Gauteng department of health acting spokesperson Lesemang Matuka confirmed to News24 that furniture was attached by the Sheriff.
Matuka said officials were told by Ramokgopa that the department was facing financial difficulties.
He said the financial crisis was due to the increasing burden of disease, annual population growth and migration, the increasing number of medical claims, unfunded mandates and the increasing number of uninsured sicknesses due to the economic climate.
"There has been a financial committee established at provincial level to look at the financial issues at the department," Matuka said.