Health MEC Malakoane’s “baby murderers” comment arrogant & irresponsible

By Mariette Pittaway, DA MPL in the Free State Provincial Legislature:

It is widely reported that Health MEC, Dr Benny Malakoane, yesterday accused medical doctors and medical professional staff at the Bongani Hospital in Welkom of being the “biggest bunch of baby murderers in the province.”

This comment coming from the political head of the Free State Provincial Department of Health is extremely arrogant and grossly irresponsible.

MEC Malakoane must immediately withdraw his accusation towards the medical staff at Bongani Hospital and unreservedly apologise to them in person, followed by tendering his immediate resignation.

It is the entrenched and structural financial and administrative mismanagement within the department that results in regular medicine stock-outs, poorly equipped medical facilities and severe staff shortages of doctors and specialists that contribute to avoidable deaths.

If there is any person who should accept responsibility for avoidable deaths in public hospitals in the Free State, it should be MEC Malakoane himself, followed shortly by Premier Magashule, at whose pleasure MEC Malakoane continues to serve despite his disastrous tenure at the department.

Free State medical professional staff across all disciplines continue to work hard, delivering the best medical care they can, with the limited resources they have.

MEC Malakoane’s politicisation of management structures through the ANC’s policy of cadre deployment at all medical facilities in the Free State have created a toxic environment that is not conducive to the delivery of quality and equitable healthcare. As a result of this policy 177 medical doctors and 28 medical specialists left the employment of the department last year.

In true Malakoane form, he can never accept responsibility for his own failures, always blaming someone or something else.

MEC Malakoane has in the past also accused medical professionals who dare to speak out or make recommendations of how to improve overall performance in the public health sector in the province of racism or having political agendas against his leadership.

It is a sad situation that the people of the Free State find themselves in, but it is a situation they can easily start to turn around this year by voting for the DA.

Where the DA governs, our hospitals and clinics are well equipped, well-staffed, and well stocked, delivering ‘private quality-like’ healthcare to all those who need it, in state of the art medical facilities. The DA can bring this ethos of quality and equitable public healthcare services to the people of the Free State.

Interpersonal violence the biggest contributor to injury over the festive season

By Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, WC Minister of Health:

Today, the Western Cape Health Minister, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, released injury and incident statistics for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in the Western Cape for the 2015/16 festive season.

“Unfortunately, each year during the holiday period we experience an increase in road fatalities, drowning or near drowning incidents and interpersonal violence related injuries. In order for the Western Cape Government to roll out appropriate strategies to the challenges of the festive season, we need to understand the trends” said Minister Mbombo.

Emergency Medical Personnel play a key role in providing critical services to Western Cape communities every day. They often work under very difficult circumstances especially during the holiday season with an increased number of people visiting the Western Cape.

Annually, our Department of Health strives to accommodate the influx of holiday makers to our province.

We put in place active measures to ensure our EMS are prepared for the peak summer season with a specific focus on:

  • Road traffic injuries on dates where people are travelling on main routes.
  • Drowning and near drowning injuries related incidents to large numbers of people at beaches
  • Interpersonal violence and injuries related to alcohol abuse

We came up with plans to address these risks in order to provide rapid and effective response to all incidents.

I wish to compliment all EMS staff and volunteers for their compassion, dedication and professionalism over this period. We know this work is not easy as you sacrifice time with loved ones to add value to the health service offering in this province.

Between December 2015 and January 2016, EMS dealt with more than 17 500 emergency incidents.

Overall, EMS incidents increased by almost 8% of which 80% of total incidents reported are attributed to interpersonal violence.

The statistics and incident types are reported as follows from the period 4 Dec 2015 – 13 January 2016:

Interpersonal violence incidents

  • A total of 14 656 cases of violence were reported;
  • Assault due to dangerous weapons/other rank highest with 8056 cases reported which accounts for 60% of the total of cases;
  • Physical assault is 2nd highest at 2092 incidents amounting to 15% of cases.

Interpersonal violence was highest in the Metro, totaling 6505 cases; Cape Winelands ranked 2nd highest with 2648 and Eden district 3rd with 2440 cases.


Transport related incidents

  • A total of 2341 incidents were reported;
  • Light motor vehicle incidents ranked the highest with a total number of 1256 (close to 50% of all transport injuries);
  • Pedestrian incidents were the 2nd highest at 725 incidents which amounts to 31%.

Transport injuries were reported highest in the Metro totaling 1292 cases, Cape Winelands ranked 2nd with 327, and Eden district 3rd with 302.


Water related injuries

  • A total of 177 drowning and/or near drowning incidents were reported
  • 89 were trauma incidents (close to 50%)

Water related injuries were reported highest in the Metro totaling 103 cases and Eden ranked 2nd highest with 26 cases.


Heat exposure incidents

  • A total of 64 cases of heat exposure were reported
  • 48 of which were reported trauma cases (75%)

Metro also reported the highest number of heat exposure incidents at 23, Overberg District reported 15 cases and another 15 cases for Eden District.


Air Mercy assistance

  • A total of 132 special incidents were reported which required aero medical assistance
  • 129 were transfers between facilities
  • 3 cases needed primary response assistance


Sadly, a number of these incidents handled by EMS were fatal and I would like to report as follows:

  • 298 interpersonal violence cases;
  • 140 fatal road crashes
  • 53 fatal drowning incidents
  • No heat exposure incidents were not reported in this period

Injuries forms the biggest portion of the burden of disease and these statistics provide us with insight into where we need to focus our efforts.

Based on the trends over the past festive season it is evident that interpersonal violence is the biggest contributor to injuries. Preliminary research shows that this can be attributed to substance- and alcohol abuse.

That is why the Western Cape Government (WCG) has undertaken to promote safe, healthy and inclusive communities, where citizens take active ownership of their personal safety, wellness and that of their families.

This is encapsulated crisply under our strategic goals as a province. The Departments of Health, Transport and Public Works, Social development, Community Safety and Cultural Affairs and Sport are working together allocating resources, rolling out transversal government projects and focusing particularly on communities at risk.

One of my main goals for 2016 is to encourage the people in the Western Cape to adopt a culture of mutual respect, wellness and high regard for the law. Behavioral change is everyone’s responsibility.

Rape at South Rand Hospital

By Jack Bloom MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health:

I am horrified by the alleged rape of an epileptic patient by a psychiatric patient at the South Rand Hospital in south Johannesburg.

According to a report, the patient was allegedly raped by a psychiatric patient while she was asleep, waiting for a bed to open in the ward. The psychiatric patient had been discharged earlier in the afternoon and was waiting for his family to collect him from the hospital.

There has been a dramatic increase of psychiatric patients at the hospital due to the temporary closure of the casualty unit at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital which is undergoing renovations. I warned about the problems this caused when I visited the hospital in July last year.

Patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, suicidal tendencies and drug addictions are admitted for 72 hours for observation and treatment.

These psychiatric patients should be kept separate from ordinary patients in a dedicated ward with tighter security.

We need a full investigation of this incident and better security to minimize the risk from psychiatric patients who can be unpredictable and violent.

DA wants officials involved in “fax and copygate” scandal to be held accountable

By Isak Fritz MPL, DA Northern Cape Provincial Spokesperson of Health:

The DA wants to know whether senior officials from the Northern Cape Health Department are finally going to be held accountable for millions of rands worth of legal fees incurred due to improper contract management.

This comes after judgment was delivered last week in part two of the Bestor CC court saga, whereby the Health Department was found liable for damages and costs, as a result of the improper termination of a maintenance contract for fax and copy machines.

The maintenance contract, entered into in March 2007 by then senior manager, Ms Lindiwe Nyathi Mokotoso, who was the Acting Head of Department at the time, was terminated by then Chief Executive Officer of the department, Dr Dion Theys, in November 2009 by way of a letter.   Theys conceded in court proceedings that the department could not have terminated the maintenance agreement on the grounds stated.

Bestor CC is now claiming an amount of R33 million from the department. This includes damages suffered, interest accrued on the damages, as well as R3,2 million in costs for legal fees incurred by the plaintiff. The letter dealing with the quantum is believed to have been delivered to the department this week. The department has 30 days to respond on how they intend paying the plaintiff, failing which the matter will be presented in the motion court.

In the first of the three cases that Bestor CC instituted against the department, they successfully sued the Health Department for R710 000 for failing to return 148 fax and copier machines to the company.

The third part of the legal saga is set to go to court in May this year and sees Bestor CC claiming over R7,2 million from the department for malicious damage of property.

The DA is of the view that not only is poor contract management by the Health Department to blame, but so too the acquisition of poor legal advice by the department. If the department had settled out of court when the claims were first instituted against them, they could have spared over R15 million worth of interest accrued, not to mention the additional legal fees incurred by them. Good sense however failed them and they underestimated Bestor CC’s persistence and the wrath of the law.

The DA has today written to Health MEC, Mac Jack, reiterating our call to institute an internal investigation into the “fax and copygate scandal”, including probing officials involved and legal advice sought by the department.

Aside from the monies owed to Bestor CC, the DA also wants to know what the department has already paid, and what it owes to the private legal team from Kimberley and Pretoria which has been representing them in the ongoing saga. If Bestor CC paid R3,2 million on legal fees, what then is the extent of the bill that the department must foot?

In as far back as 2010, the DA referred the matter then dubbed the “fax and copygate scandal” to the Auditor General, the Public Protector and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts for further investigation. We also voiced our concerns that the then pending court cases would cost the taxpayer millions. Disturbingly, we were ignored and now the taxpayer has to foot the growing bill for the department’s incompetence.

The DA believes that responsible senior managers and officials within the health department must be held accountable for wasting millions of rands on legal fees that could rather have been spent on procuring emergency vehicles and appointing additional health professionals.

The DA will continue to follow this matter with keen interest. We will not rest until all our questions pertaining to this gross mismanagement of departmental funds have been properly answered.

Injury statistics for 2015 festive season to be released by Minister Mbombo

Media Advisory:

Western Cape Ministry of Health Injury statistics for 2015 festive season to be released by Minister Mbombo.

Tomorrow, 21 January 2016, the Western Cape Health Minister, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, will release the province’s Emergency Medical Service (EMS) statistics for the 2015 festive period.

Emergency Medical Personnel play a key role in providing critical services to Western Cape communities every day. They often work under very difficult circumstances, especially during the holiday season with an increased number of people visiting the Western Cape.

Unfortunately, each year this period brings heightened instances of road fatalities, drowning or near drowning incidents and interpersonal violence related injuries. In order for the Western Cape Government to roll out appropriate strategies to the challenges of the holiday season, we need to understand the trends.

Minister Mbombo will be releasing the injury statistics and paying a visit to the EMS staff who sacrificed time with family members during the holiday season in order to respond to medical emergencies.

DATE   : Thursday, 21 January 2016

TIME    : 10:30 – 11:30

VENUE : EMS Station, Pinelands

There will be opportunities for interviews and photographs

Little progress in finding homes for 1900 psychiatric patients

By Jack Bloom MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health:

The Gauteng Health Department has made little progress in finding new homes for about 1900 psychiatric patients who will be discharged at the end of March because of the cancellation of its contract with Life Healthcare Esidimeni.

Yesterday I visited the Waverley Care Centre in Germiston run by Esidimeni. They have 640 patients, of which only 98 are well enough to be discharged. The difficulty with some of these patients, however, is that they do not have identity documents, or do not have family to go to, or are foreigners.

There are another 1300 patients housed by Esidimeni at the Randwest Care Centre in Randfontein.

Esidimeni used to look after more than 2000 patients with chronic psychiatric disorders and severe intellectual disorder, but has only managed to reduce this to about 1900 patients by discharging patients to suitable NGOs.


An urgent court interdict was sought late last year against the department by three mental health NGOs on behalf of patients’ relatives, and the department agreed not to discharge any patients until the end of January and to consult on a plan for alternative placement of the patients.


The department claimed that it would be able to look after all the patients by the end of March by placing them in existing government buildings and with NGOs.


But no progress has been made with renovations to the identified facilities, which include the old Germiston hospital, empty wards at Weskoppies and Sterkfontein, the Dan Pienaar crèche in Parktown and the old nurses’ residence at the Transvaal Memorial Institute opposite Constitution Hill. The latter two buildings are derelict.


There is no way that the facilities will be ready to take patients by the end of March, and NGOs do not have the capacity to take large numbers either.

Meanwhile, the relatives of patients are increasingly anxious as the deadline approaches.


The department should extend the contract with Esidimeni for at least another 6 months, otherwise there will be a human disaster if the patients are forced onto the streets.

Backlog at Sterkfontein Hospital causes trial delays

By Jack Bloom MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health:

The second postponement of the trial of the man accused of murdering Chumani Nqakula, the son of Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapusa-Nqakula, highlights the problem of long waiting times for evaluations at the Sterkfontein Psychiatric Hospital.

In November last year, Magistrate Albertus Roux ordered murder suspect Carlos Higuera to be referred to Sterkfontein Hospital for evaluation.

Higuera is 157 on the waiting list for admission, which means that it could take more than a year before he is admitted and evaluated for trial.

The backlog at Sterkfontein has worsened since August last year when I was informed by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu in an official reply that there were 138 male patients awaiting mental evaluation for trial, which would take between 8 to 12 months.

The problem is that there are high staff vacancies – in August last year there were 39 vacancies, including 13 Professional Nurse posts, 6 Nursing Assistant posts, 3 pharmacist posts and 3 psychologists.

It is unacceptable that trials should be delayed for lengthy periods because of the backlog at Sterkfontein Hospital.

Oscar Pistorius was speedily assessed, and the same should apply in all cases.

Urgent action needs to be taken to increase the capacity of Sterkfontein Hospital to evaluate awaiting trial prisoners.

Water crisis in Themba hospital and surrounding areas risks raising unemployment

By James Masango MPL, Spokesperson on CoGTA:

The Mbombela local municipality is yet to find a permanent solution to the water crises that has been experienced in Themba hospital and surrounding areas since 2011.

Once again, patients and staff in the Kabokweni based hospital are forced to do without clean running water because the municipality is still failing to deal with illegal connections, leaks, and failing infrastructure.

According to media reports, patients at the hospital are unable to take baths, and don’t have drinking water, hospital staff are also left without water to clean. Relatives of these patients are left with no choice, but to bring water from their respective homes.

The DA is extremely concerned that since the dawn of democracy, the Mbombela local municipality cannot or do not have the ability to deliver quality essential services. The unhygienic living conditions in the hospital will cause major health risks.

Without water people are being compromised in their ability to work, and risk poor performance and possible job losses.

According to Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), unemployment in Mpumalanga is standing at 26.2%.

Last week, the DA launched its Jobs Campaign where South Africans are shown how the party plans to create job opportunities by following these five simple steps:

  1. Invest in integrated energy, transport and ICT infrastructure for job creation;
  2. Give more people the education and skills they need to get a job;
  3. Radically reform the labour regime to support job creation;
  4. Provide direct incentives for job creation; and
  5. Create a nation of entrepreneurs by making it easier for South Africans to start and grow their own small businesses.

Figures are showing that millions of South Africans have joined the ranks of the unemployed since the beginning of President Jacob Zuma’s tenure.

2016 Health resolutions: Building a healthier Western Cape

By Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, Western Cape Minister of Health:

The Western Cape Health Minister, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, has encouraged citizens of the Western to adopt a healthier lifestyle in 2016.

An increasing number of people including children are following an unhealthy diet and are not physically active. As a result more and more people are suffering from chronic diseases of lifestyle.

“There is a misconception that healthy eating and physical activity is not affordable or unattainable for most people in our communities. This is simply not true. There are inexpensive ways that people can kick start their road to wellness.” Says Minister Mbombo

The Western Cape Department of Health serves close to 75% of the population; a third of which suffers from chronic diseases. Setting health goals early in the New Year is a good way to start changing lifestyle habits.

Healthy living, eating and physical activity are considered major contributors to combat adverse health outcomes including obesity, diabetes, hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases.

Increasingly patients present at our facilities with more than one of the “quadruple burden of diseases” (e.g TB, HIV, Hypertension and Diabetes, dread diseases such as cancers and injuries due to interpersonal violence). This places enormous stress on our facilities and resources: many are time consuming and expensive to treat. They lead to many follow-up visits and the use of chronic medication. In many cases, a healthy lifestyle can contribute greatly towards prevention or improved condition of the patient – thus relying not only on medication to treat the disease.

Going forward, pressure on the health system is unlikely to decrease. By playing an active role in their own health, patients can take proactive steps to prevent illness and ensure quality of life.

Here are some practical health tips for 2016:

Physical activity – Walk towards a healthier you

  •  Walking is easy, free and does not need special equipment
  • It is ideal for people of all ages and fitness levels
  • It can help reduce: blood pressure, risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes
  • Make walking part of your daily routine: take the stairs instead of the escalator/lift; walk to shops; when using public transport, get of one stop earlier and walk the rest of the way
  • Participate in public fun walks

Healthy eating – Make small changes to your diet

  • Drink lots of clean, safe water
  • Eat less sugar and avoid drinks high in sugar
  • Eat less fat and avoid fried foods
  • Add less salt to your food and avoid processed foods high in salt
  • Try eat more fruits and vegetables per day

The Western Cape Government is determined to build a healthy, resilient and wellness conscious society, and that is why the Department of Health has developed Western Cape on Wellness (WOW) in 2015.

WOW! Is focused on encouraging healthy eating and physical activity. There are currently over 800 WOW members across the Metro. This project has shown great success and has been well received across all communities.

WOW is currently active in the workplace across all provincial government departments, schools and in communities.

For 2016, WOW is planning free public mass events on Wednesdays – a City-based pilot.

We will also develop WoW! School Days at Cape Town Station in partnership with Metrorail Western Cape.

WoW! Seniors events took place in 2015, in partnership with Metrorail Western Cape and others. A total of 169 seniors across the Metro participated in this pilot. These events included chair-based exercise, salt reduction interactive discussion, chair-based massage and balance screening by physiotherapists, line dancing, diabetes and financial wellness, and foot pressure assessments.

We want to expand the foot print of wellness and therefore we will embark on a “People First Campaign”, taking the message of wellness to every corner of this province.

We will engage with communities, civil organisations and service users in public spaces on the importance of living healthy lifestyles and how to be wellness ambassodors.

“It is important that people take responsibility for their health and actively start changing lifestyle habits. Together we can build a healthy, wellness conscious society in the Western Cape” says Mbombo.

Gauteng health sued by 75 firms for non-payment

By Jack Bloom MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health:

The Gauteng Health Department has been involved in 75 court cases since 2012 by companies suing for non-payment of goods and services.

This is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng legislature.

Most of these cases have not been finalised, but the department has had to pay R4.5 million to companies that won their court cases in the past four years. Extra interest for late payments has amounted to R245 000.

One of the outstanding cases is by Krumhold  Foods and Commodities (Pty) Ltd which has instituted a claim for R1 516 482 for alleged non-payment of goods from August 2009 to August 2011.

Mahlangu says in her reply that the department will avoid being sued for non-payment by paying invoices within 30 days.

This is the legal norm which is not adhered to in many cases.

It is shameful that so many companies have to sue the department to get payment. Some smaller firms have unfortunately gone bankrupt because of late payments which need to be eliminated altogether by the department.

Companies should not have to go to court or beg for money that is due to them from a government department.