"I am heartbroken. It's painful. I thought he would want to wait for the courts to find me guilty first before making the decision, so I am shocked."
These were the words of emotional former Eastern Cape Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba in reaction to the news of her dismissal by Premier Oscar Mabuyane.
Gomba charged that none of her predecessors in the department were persecuted like she was.
She became the Health MEC in 2019, following the national and provincial elections.
But, she said, throughout her term in office, she was crucified. The media and the public treated her as if she was dumb - something which she isn't, she said.
She added, "The entire nation has been against me."
Gomba opened up to News24 on Friday, a day after Mabuyane fired her in light of a string of allegations she faces in connection with the infamous Nelson Mandela funeral fraud case. The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) also implicated her in wrongdoing by SIU in the procurement of scooter ambulances.
Mabuyane admitted during a press briefing on Thursday that while a process relating to the awarding of the scooter tender to a certain company was red flagged, no public funds were paid to the company.
She added, "There was no money of the department lost due to the motorbike deal. Now tell me, why am I being crucified?"
The former head of the health department, Dr Thobile Mbengashe, who was removed from the post in September and sent sideways to take up an advisory role, is facing a disciplinary hearing for his role in the scooter deal.
Gomba said, "There is nothing wrong with the idea of the scooters but this province does not like innovation."
Mabuyane has appointed Cogta MEC Xolile Nqatha acting health MEC until a permanent replacement is found.
Gomba will, however, remain a member of the Eastern Cape legislature.
She said, "I was not warned at all and Premier Mabuyane has not written to me to notify me of the termination of my contract. I have been getting calls from all media houses about this matter. I knew about the press conference but I did not know it was about my sacking."
Gomba and other African National Congress heavyweights and officials in the Buffalo City metro region, are facing a string of serious charges, including fraud, corruption, money laundering and the contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act. The 15 people are accused of misleading the municipality to believe that it had an obligation to make money available for a funeral and memorial service for former president Nelson Mandela in December 2013.
According to the charge sheet, once R10m was availed, the suspects acted with a common purpose to defraud and manipulate municipal procurement processes through illegal deviation, and then to manipulate the situation so that funding could be used for other purposes than for what they officially approved.
The accused were each released on R1 000 bail and the case was postponed to 5 March for the defence to be furnished with copies of the docket and for four outstanding suspects to be brought before court.