The Northwest health department has slammed three senior officials who allegedly refused Covid vaccines to black people last year with further charges of misconduct after the trio rejected their precautionary transfers.
In August, the senior officials, including the subdistrict manager, were suspended after alleging they failed to give black patients vaccines at a local vaccination site, alleging they were out of stock.
The officials then allegedly mobilized members of the local white community for vaccination at the Twasing Subdistrict vaccination site in Delareyville.
Provincial health department spokesman Tebogo Lekgethwane said the investigation has been completed and the suspension will be lifted in October 2021.
He said this was done with a view to consulting and advising the accused officials at the next level, the precautionary transfer, as the department had to protect witnesses and ensure disciplinary proceedings went unimpeded.
“However, the said officials rejected a precautionary transfer, which in itself is a misconduct that is insubordination,” Lekgethwane said.
He said the precautionary transfer meant the officials would be transferred to other departments of the department.
Legathwane said their charges will be amended to include the additional charges, and the appointment of the initiator and presiding officers for the disciplinary proceedings has been completed.
He explained that the delay was largely due to the presiding officer being from another department and waiting for an official release from the current employer to allow them to focus on the matter.
“However, everything has now been finalized and the disciplinary proceedings will begin shortly, based on the findings of the investigation completed last year,” Lekgethwane said.
The department has kept the investigation report secret because the contents are said to be part of the disciplinary procedure.
The province’s National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has charged that, if true, the officials’ alleged actions would amount to attempted murder, even murder, if one of those affected caught Covid-19 and would die.
To counter the impact of the white-only vaccination scandal, the county department had to ramp up its Covid vaccine awareness campaign and also appoint an acting subdistrict manager to ensure smooth vaccination at the Delareyville site.