Public Protector takes Northern Cape service delivery problems to the legislature

Service delivery grievances of Northern Cape communities will on Thursday dominate the agenda at the Provincial Legislature in Kimberley when Public Protector Adv. Thuli Madonsela meets with parliamentarians.

The Public Protector will be briefing the oversight body on issues that cropped up during her interactions with the communities in Postmansburg and Kimberley on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

She will also share with provincial lawmakers her observations following unannounced visits to two main hospitals in the two towns.

Among the issues the Public Protector will bring to the attention of the legislature is the acute shortage of resources at Postmansburg hospital. This includes shortages of doctors and the unavailability of critical medical equipment such as sonars, ventilators, incubators and theatre apparatus.

Service problems in district clinics, which were said to result in patients bypassing such facilities, opting to go directly to hospitals, thereby leaving the hospitals with increased workloads, will also be brought to the fore at the meeting.

On Wednesday, doctors at Kimberley Hospital told the Public Protector that the lack of resources at feeder hospitals in Kuruman, Postmasburg, Upington and De Aar resulted in patients having to be referred unnecessarily to the facility.

"If hospitals in these areas had theatres, doctors there would perform operations on patients and we wouldn't be this overwhelmed and running out of beds," said one doctor.

"Emergency patients have to travel more than 250 kilometres to undergo medical procedures. Not only does this put us under pressure, it also has a negative impact on the extent of the patients' conditions because when they get here they are often in a worse state."

While the Kimberley hospital has, in stark contrast to the one in Postmansburg, what doctors termed "state of the art" equipment that parallels those in private facilities, shortages of staff in maternity and paediatric wards, in particular, were serious setbacks.

This was evident from the sentiments of some of the patients who got to share their experiences with the Public Protector during her tour of the facility.

"They take good care of us. The only problem is our transport to the hospital," said a man from Hartswater, a town located 130km away.

"And then there is a shortage of doctors. They can't cope with the workload. Some of us start queuing at five in the morning and only leave at five in the afternoon."

Meanwhile some of the complaints raised at Wednesday's meeting, related to the land reform programme, with one complainant alleging fraud and corruption involving senior government officials in restitution cases.

Issues about alleged fraudulent allocation of and delays in processing applications for RDP houses also came to the fore. The regulation of tuckshop operations, and the plight of health sector NGOs and community health care-givers in relation to funding and stipends, respectively, were among the other issues raised.

The Public Protector is in the province until Thursday as part of her office's National Stakeholder Dialogue, which seeks to strengthen the state's ability to deliver on the Millennium Development Goals, placing emphasis on health and poverty.

For more information, contact:

Kgalalelo Masibi
Public Protector South Africa
012 366 7006
079 507 0399
0800 11 20 40


Published Date: 
Wednesday, August 21, 2013