SIDVOKODVO: Echo Vanderwal, the Executive Director of the Luke Commission has intensified internal investigations after this Swaziland News exposed how the health institution used a data system vulnerable to hacking thus compromising information safety and or the privacy of patients.
The investigation unit of this publication managed to gain access to the system and monitored operations for three(3)months, vulnerable health data include that of Cabinet Ministers and their close relatives,businesspeople, members of the royal family and the general public.
“One donor has already withdrawn after your yesterday’s story, that’s why the Management is now under pressure, staff members are being suspended. The problem now is that they don’t know what you have because some royal family members and other high profile people are using this health institution,”said an insider.
This investigative journalist, while following a lead information about some victims of the ongoing political unrest who were allegedly shot and dumped at the Luke Commission, managed to gain access to the data system.
But part of the patients’ information including that of high profile people cannot be revealed without any valid justification as it is protected by the law, unless the information becomes of public interest.
In the Republic of South Africa, patients information is also protected by the Protection of Personal Information Act(POPIA), a legislation that sets out the minimum standards regarding accessing and 'processing’ of any personal information belonging to another person.
The Act defines ‘processing’ as collecting, receiving, recording, organizing, retrieving, or the use,distribution or sharing of any such information.
When this publication reached Echo Vanderwal,the Luke Commission Executive Director, she denied that the system of the organization was vulnerable to hacking,instead, she said it was the health staff that acted unethically.
When asked if she would consider strengthening the security of the data to protect patients’ information, the Manager threatened to sue this publication if the story was published.
“It’s not vulnerable to hacking,it’s vulnerable to professionals,who are not professionals and behaving in a criminal way, this is criminal behaviour. It’s violating the Data Protection Act and if you print anything,we will pursue you at the fullest extent of the law,” said the Luke Commission Manager.
But shortly after speaking to this journalist, insiders told this Swaziland News that the Manager rushed to change passwords and removed some staff members from the system.
Echo Vanderwal, the Executive Director of the Luke Commission with Deputy Prime Minister Themba Masuku.