By Jack Bloom MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health:
The psychiatric ward at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital remains in poor condition despite R12.5 million that was made available to upgrade it four years ago.
According to a written reply by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature, R1.2 million has been spent on a contractor that failed to finish the project.
Chryselda Building Construction was engaged in 2011 to upgrade the psychiatric ward but the contract was terminated because they could not do the job.
Meanwhile, conditions at the ward are highly unsatisfactory for patients, as shown by a YouTube video that was circulated earlier this year by a relative of one of the patients.
The video showed bare walls, cockroaches and a crude lock on the security gate.
Toilets are in bad condition, male and female patients are not properly separated, and there are only 20 beds. The plan is to expand to 40 beds and ensure a congenial environment for psychiatric patients.
It is inexcusable that improvement plans have been delayed by a poor choice of a contractor to do the job.
Why does the department appoint incompetent companies so often?
This has happened time and time again, resulting in long delays and extra suffering for patients.
I suspect the reason is because companies are appointed because of political connections rather than competence.
Mahlangu says that a tender has now been advertised to upgrade and improve the ward.
I hope that a good company is appointed so that this long-overdue project is completed as soon as possible.