Gauteng fire stations under-resourced by 35%



Fire stations across Gauteng municipalities are critically under-resourced by at least 35%. This is according to a written reply posed by the DA, to Gauteng MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Jacob Mamabolo.

Of the 2932 available positions, there is currently a shortfall of 1602 fire fighters in the province, as well a serious equipment deficits

These shortfalls were recently highlighted when the Khutsong Fire station responded to a fire at the local SAPS barracks in a bakkie and not an official fire truck.

Further, two firefighters in the Johannesburg CBD recently tragically lost their lives when responding to a fire; allegedly due to a lack of basic equipment.


This response also comes at a time of year when Gauteng residents, particularly in rural areas, are faced with veld fires; placing many communities, their farms and homes at risk.

According to the department, Ekurhuleni faces the highest shortage with 57% (1104 of a required 1928 positions) and accounts for 24% of the provincial vacancy rate. This is followed by the City of Johannesburg and Tshwane.

Despite efforts by unions to address the poor working conditions, firefighters have reported non-improvement in working conditions.

Adequate Capacity

Fire-fighting can be life-threatening work and the brave men and women who take up this call deserve to be equipped with everything they need to protect not only themselves but those they are trying to help.

The DA will continue to fight for an overhaul of the province’s fire-fighting capacity and for the provision of fire prevention kits to informal settlements.

Until the shortfall of staff and equipment is addressed, it will continue to place the lives and livelihood of the residents of Gauteng at risk.

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

[Image source]

Ineffective bus subsidies bring Gauteng’s workforce to a standstill

Ineffective Bus Subsidies

As of tomorrow, 1 July 2015, many of the 80 000 commuters who make use of PUTCO bus services across Gauteng could awake to the possibility of being left stranded as a result of the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport’s (GDRT) inability to effectively utilised bus subsidies.

While GDRT MEC, Ismail Vadi announced yesterday his department had made arrangements with Autopax, a subsidiary bus company of Passenger Rail Agency South Africa, to take over these routes – this move may be too little too late, as PUTCO has warned since the beginning of the year that it had been running at a loss and could no longer sustain several operations in the province.


The flaw lies in the mismanagement of the bus subsidy which GDRT receives from the National Department of Transport (NDOT). If funded and administered directly from the province, greater control could be exercised over its expenditure rather than the ad hoc manner in which it has been dealt with to date.

More should have been done by MEC Vadi to ensure this was done to improve and provide certainty for Gauteng’s bus commuters.

Economic Exclusion

A key focus of this administration is to redress Apartheid social and geographic planning by bringing those who were once forced to the periphery closer to economic nodes.

For many, economic exclusion is still a reality.

How are the ills of the past to be undone when one of the crucial mechanisms to do so has been completely disregarded?

The DA will impress on MEC Vadi the urgency of this matter and how it must be dealt with sooner rather than later before another mode of transport in the province becomes untenable and negatively impacts the lives of residents.

Media enquiries:

Dr Neil Campbell MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Roads and Transport

082 387 2540

[Image source]

Alleged death of patient denied treatment over R20 admin fee

Refused Care

I am horrified by the report that 64-year-old pensioner Mr Bheki Mazibuko died at the Bheki Mlangeni Hospital in Jabulani, Soweto after staff allegedly refused to help him because he did not have R20 admission fee.

According to his son, Bongani, a doctor and a nurse told his father when he arrived in an ambulance last week on Thursday that they would not touch him until he paid the fee.

Mazibuko says that he only had R15 on him, and when he finally got the money after two hours he was told that his father had died 20 minutes earlier.

Departmental Denial

The Gauteng Health Department has denied this version of events, but Bongani Mazibuko has clearly been traumatised by a bad experience and a proper investigation is required.

I have received other complaints about this hospital, which is short of 166 staff and about 40% of its beds are empty.

There seems to be a particular problem at casualty after hours, which is worsened by the temporary closure of the casualty unit at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital for upgrading.

No patient should ever be turned away for lack of funds. We need to know the truth about this incident and firm assurance that prompt treatment of emergency patients is never delayed for any avoidable reason
Media Enquiries:
Jack Bloom MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC
082 333 4222

[Image source]

Hammanskraal water: Residents facing a humanitarian crisis

Lives Endangered

The Rooiwal water treatment plant, north of Tshwane, is again experiencing capacity problems, resulting in raw sewage sludge making its way into the Apies River endangering the lives of thousands of residents in Hammanskraal and surrounding areas.

The plant receives volumes far greater than it can handle, a temporary remedy to capacity problems has seen workers at the plant by-passing the system, pumping sewage sludge on to an open plane as the plant can no longer handle this load. If it were to function as it should, the plant would shut down completely.

Click here for video.

A tender for upgrading the plant is already 17 months late.

Irrigation and Drinking Water Contaminated

This sewage sludge build up has now overflown and is flowing into the Apies River which feeds the Themba Dam that provides Hammanskraal with drinking water. Apart from this, the water is also used for irrigation farmers bordering the river.

Vegetables irrigated with this water pose a future health hazard when consumed.

According to DA Tshwane Ward 96 Councillor Hannes Coetzee, this morning an E. coli count of water in the river was conducted with levels found to be dangerously high.

The community of Hammanskraal, surrounding plots and settlements have been placed in a situation akin to a humanitarian crisis by the City of Tshwane.

Immediate Contingency Plans

Water tankers must be brought in to these areas as a matter of urgency to prevent E.coli infection. The area where the sludge is pumped to should have a lining installed to prevent contamination of ground water and furthermore, a retaining wall must be erected around the open plane immediately to prevent further raw sewage from contaminating the Apies River.

The DA will be opening a case against Tshwane City Manager, Jason Ngobeni, for violating section 151 (i)(j) of the National Water Act, we will also be pursuing this matter with the Blue Scorpions.

The Rooiwal water treatment plant must be upgraded and maintained so as to ensure resident’s lives are not placed in danger in the future.

The DA will continue to monitor the situation and ensure it is handled in a timeous and effective manner.

Media enquiries:
Janho Engelbrecht MPL
DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Environmental Affairs

060 556 4343

Hannes Coetzee

DA Tshwane Ward 96 Councillor

072 538 6244

Broken Toilets at Leading Joburg Hospital

Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital

Dirty and broken toilets are causing major distress for patients at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital.

Conditions at this leading hospital are declining, as shown by the latest National Health Department survey where it scored only 68% on six core standards, including cleanliness, down from 70% previously.

I am receiving increasing complaints about shocking toilet conditions at the hospital.

Views on Shocking Toilet Conditions

Here is one description of the ladies toilets by former nurse Colleen King:

“I went to the toilets at area 457 by the outpatients. One toilet was taped up and clearly out of use. The other was horribly blocked and the stench was apparent in the passage. I then tried the ones next to the hairdresser … The lights were missing. All three toilets were without seats and paper. I went all the way to area 557 where the toilets were also in poor condition seats missing, no paper etc.”

Another visitor to the hospital wrote to me as follows:

“Having been at the hospital all day, I needed to use the public toilets a few times, and quite honestly they are beyond disgusting. One would imagine this would be the first area where hygiene and infection control is implemented. Light bulbs are missing leaving many in total darkness. The toilet seats are cracked – wonderful for collecting germs!  No soap. No toilet paper.”

Decent Toilet Facilities

I have written to hospital CEO Gladys Bogoshe to attend to this appalling situation as soon as possible.

This flagship hospital can surely do better in providing decent toilet facilities.

(Photos available on request)
Media Enquiries:
Jack Bloom MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC
082 333 4222

Streamline Gauteng licensing departments to better service road users

Numerous Complaints

Gauteng’s licensing centres are the brink of collapse as the provinces roads and transport department is out of sync with the situation officials at these centres face on a daily basis.

Recently I visited a major Tshwane licensing centre after receiving numerous complaints ranging from slow service to a backlog in both the issuing of learners and drivers licenses.

The following concerns were expressed to me by staff members:

  • The centre has little room to manoeuvre as it is regulated, but receives little support from either the national and provincial departments of roads and transport;
  • Eye testing falls under the purview of e-Natis and cannot be done by an optometrist which causes an extensive backlog, as it can take up to 3 times longer than the former manual system. Also, the centre is underesourced by the municipality as there are not enough competent staff to operate the equipment; and
  • Centurion alone issues 1 500 learners licenses a month, and from 2006 to 2015 the number of application forms it issues per month has risen from 400 to 7000.

While there are without doubt officials at these centres who do the bare minimum and cause huge customer dissatisfaction, it is also certainly unrealistic to expect that a centre designed to service a certain amount of applications, learners and driver’s license tests can handle a vastly increased load with the same number of staff and no improvement in structures.


Not only does the morale of staff and service deteriorate, but motorists who take time out of their day to abide by the law and process their required documentation are left unattended, frustrated and possibly unwilling to comply with legislation in future instances.

Gauteng MEC for Roads and Transport, Ismail Vadi, must liaise with officials and investigate the real-time issues at centres in the province. He must also engage with both national and local government to streamline legislation and regulations to empower officials to make their jobs easier.

MEC Vadi should commit to make every effort in ensuring that officials in these centres are supported so that road users in the province are not left stranded by under- capacitated systems.

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

[Image source]

Manhole swallows another toddler in Sebokeng

Tragic Death

The DA is increasingly concerned over the safety of Sebokeng’s children after yet another child fell into a manhole and tragically lost his life.

According to local newspaper reports, four-year-old Mpho Magabi fell into an open manhole near a local playground.

This is the second tragic incident of a toddler dying after falling into an unsecured manhole

In November last year, five-year-old Sibusiso Ndada’s lifeless body was pulled from a manhole almost 24 hours after the incident was reported to local and provincial authorities.

Slow Response Times

To date, neither cooperative governance MEC Jacob Mamabolo nor Emfuleni mayor Greta Hlongwane have properly explained why emergency services failed to respond sooner.

Safety measures in communities play a critical role in ensuring that children are raised in a safe environment. Playgrounds have the specific purpose of allowing children the opportunity to freely express their abilities and grow their motor skills.

To this end the DA will write to MEC Mamabolo and Mayor Hlongwane and demand that urgent attention be paid to open manholes in Sebokeng, and to secure them without delay.

Parents and families should not fear for the lives of children at play.

Media enquiries:

Kingsol Chabalala MPL

DA Gauteng Constituency Head – Emfuleni

060 558 8299

[Image source]

All quiet on the War Room front

Improved Services

In his inaugural state of the province address, Gauteng Premier David Makhura, announced the creation of a provincial Service Delivery War Room (SDWR) to improve the manner in which government rolls out services to residents.

However one year later, the finer details of this project are still unknown.

In a written reply to oral questions I put to the Premier, it would appear that while a lot of behind the scenes work has been done on this project – not much of this has been conveyed to either public representatives or to the public around Gauteng.

Inter-governmental Nature

Both MECs and Members of Mayoral Committees (MMCs) have been designated as champions of this project, but the public has yet to learn who they are and what their functions are.

Likewise, it is indicated in the Premier’s reply that officials from all three spheres of government are being deployed to War Room structures, with no specific details supplied as to where these War Rooms are to be.

Does this imply that the War Room will operate from within the identified priority wards, or is there a central coordinating point?  The reply also confirms that a large number of Community Development Workers and other officials have been trained on the War Room Case Management System, indicating a very large-scale training initiative.

However some fundamental facts remain vague:

  • Where are these War Rooms to be situated – in identified wards or a central administrative point;
  • Who is operating them and who has access to them;
  • Why has the public been kept in the dark about their existence;
  • When are they going to be fully operational; and
  • How are they to be contacted?

If the above questions cannot be answered a year from conceptualisation and formalisation of this plan – surely this will be yet again another empty promise to placate voters and not a tool to affect real change.

The DA will pursue issues around the SDWR in order to fully inform the public about this project, which seems to have been kept below the radar.

Media enquiries:

Justus de Goede MPL

DA Tshwane Constituency Head

060 558 8309

[Image Source]

Infrastructure MEC holds Gauteng back from a better life

Major Underspending

The Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development (DID), responsible for the establishment and maintenance of much needed infrastructure, has once again left millions of residents behind by failing to institute astute financial and project management.

During the 2013/14 financial year, the department underspent its budget by R640 million – equating to 28% its annual budget.

Last year, 2014/15, the situation worsened as the budget allocation for infrastructure implementation was underspent by R1, 25 billion. This number is made up of R905 million worth of projects that were removed from its budget, due to its failure to initiate planning and construction,  as well as R350 million that simply could not be spent.

Differing Points of View

During the debates on the budgets for the current financial year, the poor performance of this department was acknowledged by the MEC for Finance, Barbara Creecy, who said “Particularly, I am concerned about ongoing project delays, cost overruns, and procurement challenges still being experienced on projects.”

This was echoed by Gauteng Premier David Makhura who in his budget speech indicated that DID was in need of critical care and acknowledged that overinflated projects, poor performance and time wasting have stymied the critical work of government.

However, MEC for DID, Nandi Mayathula-Khoza did not share this sentiment, stating “We have turned around the history of poor performance”. There is clearly a disjuncture between the views of Premier and members of his cabinet.

Crucial Role

DID has a critical role to play in kick-starting Premier Makhura’s programme of Transformation, Modernisation and Re-industrialisation of Gauteng. This department is the engine that will unlock jobs, boosting economic growth and restoring prosperity to Gauteng.

If Premier Makhura and MEC Creecy can see the potential of this department – and also acknowledge its shortcomings, why can MEC Mayathula-Khoza not?

For the sake of the millions of residents in Gauteng who rely heavily on this department for the construction of schools, hospitals and clinics, Premier Makhura would be better served by a MEC who does not deny the truth in order to escape culpability for poor performance.

For the sake of the residents of Gauteng and its economy, the DA will continue to offer its assistance to this vital department to ensure that the quality of life for all who reside in this province is improved.
Media enquiries:
Alan Fuchs MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow MEC Infrastructure Development
060 558 8313

[Image Source]

17 Criminal Cases Against Joburg Hospital Staff

Criminal staff

Seventeen criminal cases have been opened against employees of the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital as part of the disciplinary process against 116 employees in the last three years.

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

Disciplinary cases include the following:

13 cases of alleged unauthorized possession of hospital property
12 cases of improper, disgraceful and unacceptable conduct
12 cases of insubordination
11 cases of gross negligence
11 absenteeism cases
5 fraud charges
5 theft charges

There were two cases where employees were charged with soliciting money from the public in exchange for jobs.


According to Mahlangu, out of 55 formal disciplinary processes, 21 are closed, 8 are on appeal, 18 are pending investigation, 6 are at a disciplinary hearing stage and two are awaiting sanction and the implementation of a sanction respectively.

R648 484 has been paid out for suspension without pay in the last three years.

I am concerned that 34 out of 55 cases are not finalised as discipline should be as swift as possible while following due process.

Effective discipline is essential to raise service standards in our hospitals.

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

[Picture source]