Elders abused at Bara Eye Clinic

Bloom,-JackElderly patients awaiting cataract operations at the St John’s Eye Clinic at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital have been treated badly this year.

For instance, on 20 January, patients with scheduled operations were told to go home because machinery was not working.

This was after they had all got up early and paid for transport to get there. No effort was made to contact them to say that surgery had been cancelled.

Every morning there are long queues of mostly elderly and frail pensioners

According to a recent written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature, 3091 patients at the St John’s Eye Clinic wait three years from diagnosis to operation.

This clinic is drastically under-staffed, with19 vacancies out of 40 positions.

Equipment shortages include the following:
• Phaco machines
• Posterior vitrectomy machines
• Hand held Perkins Tonometer
• Indirect opthalmoscope
• Hard and soft lenses
• Cataract packs

St John’s Eye Clinic has the longest waiting time for cataracts in Gauteng.

The staff and equipment shortages lead to frequent cancellations and rescheduling of operations, which is very stressful and distressing for elderly patients who have waited a long time to regain their sight.

This is inhumane and an abuse of the elderly which cannot be allowed to continue.

Special measures should be taken to improve the situation there as soon as possible.

Media enquiries:
Jack Bloom MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health
082 333 4222

Gauteng driving schools frustrated by chaotic licensing centres

de-Goede,-JustusDuring a recent meeting of the Gauteng Legislature Portfolio Committee for Roads and Transport driving schools again explained the problems which beset the industry.

According to the National Driving Schools Forum, driving schools have been negotiating for changes to outdated or inappropriate legislation for almost 40 years – all to no effect.

This has caused a host of problems, such as illegal operators, inadequate staffing at licencing and testing centres, endemic corruption among officials and poor treatment meted out to driving schools by officials.

It appears that little or no interest exists to remedy a situation that fundamentally affects the state of motorised transport in Gauteng, and there is evidently no sense of urgency.

The Department of Roads and Transport set out in detail an ambitious programme for transforming licencing centres, and the committee stressed the urgency and importance of the matter, especially with regard to conflicting legislation on provincial and local level.

During the past few weeks, the DA has on a number of occasions called for high level intervention over reports of shocking service and organisation at licencing centres.

Transport MEC Ismail Vadi visited Centurion and was clearly shaken by what he found. He frankly and correctly pronounced the facility dysfunctional and promised to act.

It is now up to the MEC and his department to deal with errant, lazy and corrupt municipal officials speedily, and that a semblance of service delivery returns.

Media enquiries:
Justus de Goede MPL
DA Gauteng spokesperson on transport
060 558 8305

DA calls on Education Department to share report on food poisoning deaths

KhumeThe DA in Gauteng has submitted written questions to both MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi and MEC for Community Safety Sizakele Nkosi-Malebane to establish whether an investigation was launched into the deaths of three learners – from Emma Primary school in Winterveldt, north of Pretoria – who died of food poisoning in September last year.

Despite the police services reporting to have opened an inquest into the matter, MEC Lesufi and his department made a commitment to send the food for testing and to independently investigate the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the three learners.

To date, parents have not received any update regarding the alleged investigations as promised by the education department.

The DA calls on MEC Lesufi and his department to divulge the findings of the investigation to the bereaved families, and implement necessary action steps to ensure no further loss of lives in future.

It’s distressing that parents send their children to school with the belief that they will be in a safe environment only to find out that their loved ones have passed on.

Justice must be served and this matter should be brought to finality.

Media enquiries:
Khume Ramulifho, MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Education
082 398 7375

Administrative incompetence leaves Merafong in financial turmoil

Cilliers,-InaThe ANC led Merafong Local Municipality, through mismanagement and poor administrative controls, is about to fall off a financial cliff.

Financial information tabled at the last Council sitting reveals a municipality that will soon be non-functioning.

Critical failures by the municipality are as follows:

· In the first quarter of this financial year, the municipality lost R147 million in revenue. The collection rate failed to improve in the second quarter, with R100 million still outstanding;
· An amount of R107 million in consumer debtor losses was deemed irrecoverable and was written off in December 2014 – a trend repeatedly identified by the Auditor General;
· No effective measure has been put in place to curb consumer debt, negatively impacting on collection rates. The municipality is currently only collecting at 70%;
· As of December 2014, only 21% of the capital budget for Merafong had been spent – R61 million of R 294 million
· The municipality’s capital investment has been rapidly eroded over a period of 12 months. From December 2013 – December 2014, the investment shrank from R314 million to R49 million.

Coupled with this, Merafong’s Chief Financial Officer revealed that the council had lost a court case against a mining company in the area over an inaccurate property value for assessment rates which the council had placed on the mines property.

As a result, the council now owes the mining company in excess of R300 million.

It is clear that Merafong has completely lost the ability to fulfil its obligation to the people, and it will not be long before there is nothing left of this municipality.

I will write to the MEC for Local Government, Jacob Mamabolo, and request for a provincial intervention in terms of Section 139(1)(b) of the Constitution and to place Merafong under provincial administration.

Residents of this municipality should not have to suffer due to incompetence.

Media enquiries:
Ina Cilliers MPL
DA Constituency Head: Merafong
060 556 4344

Gauteng landfill sites slowly poisoning water resources

Engelbrecht,-JanhoThe DA is concerned over the state of landfill sites in Gauteng, that they do not comply with national regulations, and the effect it has on the province’s water resources.

According to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, only 46 of Gauteng’s 74 landfill sites are fully licenced and only 31 are fully operational.

When waste is disposed of in landfill sites, pollutants leach into the ground below and eventually into the ground water. Sites have to be constructed in a certain manner so as to prevent leaching, thus protecting scarce water resources.

Environmental legislation demands that waste disposal sites be fully compliant with national norms and standards, and that these sites be licensed according to the waste that is disposed.

With 28 sites not compliant, there is a very real risk that a large proportion of Gauteng’s rivers and dams are being polluted with high concentrations of heavy metals and other dangerous chemicals.

The knock-on will be devastating on agriculture and drinking water supplies, as two major catchment areas, the Vaal and Crocodile West are directly fed from Gauteng’s water courses.

To this end the DA will submit written questions to MEC Lebogang Maile requesting detailed information of landfill site locations, their levels of compliance, and whether any plans are under way to bring all 74 into compliance, or whether they will be shut down and rehabilitated.

South Africa’s water resources are under threat, and every possible precaution must be taken to prevent further harm to our catchment areas.

Media enquiries:
Janho Engelbrecht MPL
DA Gauteng Spokesperson on the Environment
060 556 4343

Katlehong schools in urgent need of more classrooms

More,-LeboThe DA in Gauteng calls on Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi to address the desperate need for additional classrooms at schools in Katlehong, east of Johannesburg.

During recent oversight visits to several schools in the area, the DA found most schools to be overcrowded.

Schools such as Leratadima Primary School in Tokoza, Katlehong Technical High School in the Goba section and Thutopele High School in the Khumalo Valley section require urgent intervention.
Despite Leratadima Primary being a model school in the community, it has no library with access to the school being on a busy route causing a safety concern to parents and learners.

In the case of Katlehong Technical High school, it has had theft and needs safety equipment in place. Thutopele High School has a high/ teacher learner rate with an average rate of one teacher to sixty learners as well as a shortage of maths and science teachers.

The overcrowded schools across the ever growing province calls for more classrooms. In the meantime, the addition of more classrooms to existing schools coupled with the need for more teachers will alleviate the strain on overcrowded schools as a short-term solution.

Overcrowded classes place an unnecessary strain on both learners and teachers. This is the space where new ideas are taught, explained and debated. Squashing learners into classrooms stifles their chances of a fair education.

To this end, DA will submit written questions to the MEC asking him what his department’s plans are to address this unacceptable situation, and how soon learners will find relief.

The DA will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that the needs of Katlehong’s learners remain a top priority.

Media queries:
Lebogang More MPL
DA Gauteng Constituency Head – Katlehong
072 273 4487