Public Protector concludes dialogue with North West stakeholders
Public Protector Adv. Thuli Madonsela on Thursday concluded her two-day visit to the North West with a meeting with organised stakeholders in Mahikeng, where a myriad of service delivery and maladministration complaints continued to be brought to her attention.
This follows the Public Protector's interaction on Wednesday with ordinary members of the public in Vryburg and neighbouring areas.
Speaking during the Thursday meeting, Chief Mogakolodi Masibi of Disaneng village called on the Public Protector to widen her investigation into the so-called "D account", explaining that it did not only affect communities residing in mining towns.
Currently, the Public Protector is investigating allegations of a systematic looting of the collective resources of the community of Bapong and other traditional communities residing in mining areas, in the province. This includes funds held under the account in question. A forensic investigator has since been appointed to assist the Public Protector with the probe.
Chief Masibi said the account had been established during the days of Bophuthatswana and ordinary people across the homeland had contributed to the fund, which, he said, amounted to "hundreds of millions" of rand.
He told the Public Protector that the provincial government had failed to account to those who contributed to the fund on its status. Chief Masibi said the funds could have been used to uplift the poor in the province.
He added that there had been allegations that about R300million from the account had been used to build the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, requesting the Public Protector to probe the claims.
On other issues, several people complained about the harassment of whistle-blowers, by the Manager of the Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality in Mahikeng, through unfair dismissals. Further allegations of irregular appointment of staff, irregular allocation of tenders and abuse of power were levelled against the Manager. A Public Protector investigation into the same issues against the Manager concerned is underway.
Issues of drug abuse and lack of rehabilitation facilities in the province were also raised by leaders from coloured communities in Mahikeng and Potchefstroom. They called on the Public Protector to engage the police to assist with rooting out drug lords in communities and for government to do something about lack of rehabilitation centres.
On health matters, which are part of the focus of the Public Protector's dialogue with stakeholders, issues were raised about the plight of voluntary healthcare givers in so far as their remuneration is concerned. Unfriendly staff and unhygienic conditions in hospitals and inadequate resources for the recruitment and retaining of healthcare professionals by the Department of Health were also raised.
Thanking guests for entrusting her office with their complaints, the Public Protector undertook to give the issues raised her undivided attention.
"We will ask government to immediately resolve the issues that they concede are not right. We will also work with government to investigate and resolve the rest," said the Public Protector, who wrapped up the day with an unannounced visit to the Mahikeng Provincial Hospital, where she interacted with patients and staff. Patients complained about lack of medical equipment such as thermometers and partitions for the privacy of patients in wards.
She was in the province as part of her annual stakeholder dialogue and public hearing, which focuses on strengthening government's ability to deliver on the Millennium Development Goals, particularly those on ending poverty and on health.
Health matters raised help enrich the Public Protector's systemic investigation into, among other things, child mortality, procurement of equipment and medical supplies and the management of healthcare facilities.