‘Free State premier’s office used hospital to swindle money’

A Free State hospital has still not received a cent from the Free State premier’s office after Good Samaritans donated at a fundraising golf day event and gala dinner over five years ago.

The gala dinner was hosted by then Free State premier Sisi Ntombela’s office in August 2018 to raise funds for the Hillside View Mother and Child hospital. Funds were donated, items were sold, and another attendee pledged R150 000, however, the money did not reach the hospital.

In addition, the Free State premier’s office sold sponsorship packages including a R1-million diamond package, a R750 000 platinum, a gold package for R500 000, and another silver package which went for R300 000.

The platinum package, which was taken by the time the office advertised the event, included four golfers’ hampers, four two-seater golf carts, a halfway house and branding at the designated hole.

It also included a branded T-shirt and cap per player, company banner at golf registration table, two reserved seats at the premiers table, dinner and entertainment, two company banners at prize-giving dinner and reserved dinner seats for 10 people.

The event, which was held at the Bloemfontein Golf Club, was well-attended by politicians including MEC for treasury Gadija Brown and director-general in the Free State premier’s office Kopung Ralikontsane. Popular radio presenter Thuso Motaung was the MC for the night.

The hospital management was never consulted before hand or involved in the finances of the fundraiser, and were not even invited to the actual golf day and gala dinner.

Hillside View Mother and Child hospital CEO Thulani Maphalala told Sunday World that the premier’s office seemingly used the hospital’s name to swindle money.

“We have been quite because we wanted to build relationships with everyone. We are trying to build something for our community. We have a bit of help and we are supported,” said Maphalala.

“What shocks me is that even when they started with fundraising, they did not consult us. We heard from outsiders, I myself had to gate-crush the event.”

Maphalala added that he was sent from pillar to post by different officials when he tried to get help from the premier’s office, noting that no one was forthcoming with information that he needed to move the matter forward.

“They used our name to make money. This was an opportunity for them to shine as the office. We are still struggling to get funding so that the project can kick-start,” he said.

“This is something for our own children. I did not invite them in the first place, they came in and saw an opportunity to steal money in our name.”

The 70-bed hospital is licenced to start construction in Bloemfontein. After trying to get hold of the premier’s office for five years to no avail, the hospital approached lawyers, who wrote a letter of demand. The letter was served to the premier’s office two weeks ago.

Maphalala’s lawyer Buang Jones of Buang Jones Attorneys gave the office until Friday to reply to a letter of demand, which was sent to the premier and the director-general.

The letter, which Sunday World has seen, reads: “Our client is of the firm belief that it has suffered prejudice emanating from non-payment of the proceeds of charity events held in support of its hospital development.

“Our client is of the belief that your new administration will assist in resolving this matter amicably. We are, therefore instructed and our client hereby requests the following: a meeting with the office of the premier; and payment of monies raised in support of the hospital development.”

Sello Dithebe, spokesperson for current Free State premier Mxolisi Dukwana, told Sunday World that the premier’s office would have to conduct an investigation and then share the details in due course.


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