Medical waste saga continues – DA suspects a cover-up

Karen de Kock, MPL

DA Northern Cape Provincial Spokesperson of Health

The Democratic Alliance will again pose questions pertaining to the dumping of medical waste in the province to Health MEC, Mxolisa Sokatsha. The DA will also once again request the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) to reconvene on the unresolved issue of the department’s previous medical waste contract. This comes amidst concerns that, three years after dumped medical waste was exposed in Kuruman, it has still not been cleaned up. And now more illegally dumped medical waste has been exposed in Danielskuil.

The discovery of medical waste in Danielskuil comes hot on the heels of Sokatsha having publically denied in May this year that he misled the legislature with regards to the removal of medical waste in Wrenchville, Kuruman, in 2010. It also comes against the backdrop of statements made during a House Sitting way back in 2011, to the effect that “the issue of waste management is a racial thing” and that “the person who has been given the contract is so competent that you don’t even hear about it in the papers”. More recent reassurances to the effect that all was well in the management of medical waste in the province, were further made by Sokatsha during the health budget vote presentation at the legislature in May this year. The DA, however, considers all such reassurances to be nothing but a cover-up. Evidence hereof can be seen in the fact that used syringes and other medical supplies still litter dumping sites in Wrenchville and Danielskuil.

In addition, the DA is further of the view that the past medical waste contract that was awarded to Tshenolo Resources, still has to be finely scrutinized by SCOPA. This, after a report by the Auditor-General highlighted irregularities in the awarding of the said contract. Whilst the committee did previously sit on this matter, a resolution was never taken, and hence the matter cannot be considered as finalized. The DA did take this matter up by presenting a motion in the House, to the effect that SCOPA reconvene on this matter. However, the ANC voted against the motion. The DA also wrote to the then Speaker, Boeboe Van Wyk, requesting that the matter be placed on the legislature programme but, to date, this request has not seen the light of day.

The DA hopes to ascertain from Sokatsha why, after three years, the medical waste in Kuruman has still not been removed. We also want him to respond to the more recent dumping of medical waste in Danielskuil. While we hope that a response will be forthcoming, his silence on the matter will only confirm our suspicions that a cover-up is still at play.

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