Urgent review of safety at hospitals needed


The Democratic Alliance (DA) has submitted an urgent request for the health committee of the Northern Cape provincial legislature to launch an overview investigation into the neonatal unit at the Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe (RMS) hospital. A request was also made to convene a meeting with departmental management regarding serious security issues at health facilities.

This comes after a newborn baby was kidnapped from the hospital on Wednesday afternoon.

RNews reported earlier that she disappeared from her cot in the hospital. She was located and found unharmed on Friday morning. A 21-year-old woman has already been arrested. The police in Kimberley’s domestic violence, child protection and sexual offenses unit found the newborn baby – two days after her abduction – at around 09:00 at the suspect’s house in Greenpoint in Kimberley.

Isak Fritz, the DA’s prime ministerial candidate in the Northern Cape, says the kidnapping coincides with a week-long strike by security personnel, who are said to be angry over arrears of salaries owed to them. According to media reports, it is still uncertain whether this is due to non-payment by the health department to Defensor Security, or by Defensor to their staff. “Regardless of that, the situation is unacceptable and cannot be allowed to continue,” says Fritz.

The DA has for years questioned the department’s use of expensive security firms, which offer little value for money.

“The prime minister, dr. Zamani Saul, indicated a long time ago that the province intends to handle security and cleaning services internally, which is said to be done in phases over a few years, throughout various departments. “It is therefore questioned why the department continued with monthly contracts, knowing that they will need security services for the foreseeable future.”

The national minister of health, dr. Joe Phaalha, earlier this year also revealed that the outsourcing of security services by the Northern Cape health department led to a R427 million irregular expenditure as a result of monthly contracts.

In addition, the former Northern Cape head of health, Steven Jonkers, is also among the officials involved in a court case relating to a tender worth more than R300 million for the provision of security services in 2017, to the company which continues to provide security services to the health department.

“Weak security is directly responsible for the lack of access control at RMS which led to a baby being kidnapped. The health department must be held responsible for this gross negligence and lack of security. The department is already faced with legal claims worth R2.1 billion. It cannot afford further demands that arise as a result of absent security that makes health facilities a nest of crime.”

Fritz submitted his request for urgent review and a meeting to the chairman of the health committee.