Dept. of Health’s security contract must be probed

By Harold McGluwa, MPL, DA Northern Cape Provincial Spokesperson of Health:

The DA will this week submit additional parliamentary questions to the Northern Cape Health MEC, Mac Jack, to further probe the department’s exorbitant security contract with Karibuni Security Services (see question attached).

This comes after a reply to a parliamentary question has revealed that the value of the department’s contract with Karibuni Security Services is a massive R69 million.

The DA previously questioned the efficacy of security services at provincial health facilities after it came to light that Kimberley Hospital (KH), which itself is spending R8 million per annum on security services, has become a crime nest.

This was exposed by an earlier reply to a parliamentary question regarding safety at KH, which indicated that 26 cases of theft have been reported at the facility in the past two years. These include incidents of office breaking, as well as theft of cellphones, computers, laptops, medicine, money, furniture, a motor vehicle, medical equipment, medical tools, workshop equipment, a water pump, and a bicycle.

Other crimes reported on the hospital premises since the start of the year include assault, fighting and riotous behaviour, use of narcotics, reckless and negligent driving, ATM scams and possession of dangerous weapons. In fact, over 200 dangerous weapons were confiscated at the facility and are due to be handed over to the police for destruction.

Escalating crime at other health facilities is also a growing concern and at the beginning of August there were reports of two separate assaults on nurses at a clinic in Upington, as well as the district hospital in Postmasburg.

The DA is concerned that the department is significantly overspending on basic guarding and physical security services, such as access control, regular patrols, searching, traffic control, escorting of staff during night duties and safe guarding of institutional assets, which are proving to be largely inadequate.

Even more concerning is that the department claims to be facing a shortage of security personnel, despite the huge investment into guarding services.

Meanwhile, the health department has indicated that that most facilities do not have parameter fencing and lighting and those that do, are often not conducive for security services. The department goes on to say that facilities in general do not have security control rooms, which makes it difficult for effective security provision and monitoring at facility level. Most facilities also do not have CCTV cameras nor do they have security equipment such as sensors, x-ray scanners and metal detectors at entry points, which compromises access control, as dangerous objects cannot be detected. Also, only some facilities have safes in which to store confiscated weapons.

Given the huge amount of money spent on Karibuni Security Services, there is gaping lack of security provision at health facilities across the province.

The effectiveness and value-for-money factor of the current services being provided is questionable. The department’s narrow approach towards security provision is also troubling.

The DA will further probe the department’s contract with Karibuni Security Services as well as the department’s future plans to upgrade security measures at facilities across the province.

Patients in the Northern Cape deserve quality healthcare that is safe and secure. The department must ensure that security service providers are providing thorough security services and private security companies with multi-million rand contracts must be fired if they are not performing.