Fire At Steve Biko Hospital

I am relieved that no one was hurt by the fire at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria on Saturday night, but it highlights the need for regular fire inspections at Gauteng hospitals.

Last year there were three fires at Gauteng Hospitals:

  • A fire in the stores department of the Tambo Memorial Hospital on 30 May;
  • Cleaning department fire at Helen Joseph Hospital on 6 September; and
  • Fire caused by electrical fault at a washing machine at the laundry of the Bheki Mlangeni Hospital on 23 September.

According to a written reply by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature in October last year, an inspection was last done at the Steve Biko Hospital in July last year. It found that exits were blocked and while non-compliance letters were given to management, the exits were still a problem.

The department says that the fire at Steve Biko may have been caused by a cigarette and most patients had to be evacuated. None were injured but about 13 employees were treated for smoke inhalation and discharged.

I think this was a close call as it could have been worse.

According to Mahlangu’s reply to my questions, the following hospitals are long overdue for their annual fire inspection:

  • Leratong Hospital – last inspected in August 2012;
  • George Mukhari Hospital – last inspected in April 2013;
  • South Rand Hospital – last inspected in May 2013;
  • Tara Hospital – last inspected in July 2013;
  • Sebokeng Hospital – May 2014; Carletonville Hospital –  last inspected in June 2014;
  • Edenvale Hospital – last inspected in July 2014;
  • Pholosong Hospital – last inspected in August 2014; and
  • Rahima Moosa Hospital – last inspected in September 2014.

The Gauteng Health Department should ensure that all fire inspections are up to date and action taken on the findings.

We cannot risk a fire that could injure or kill helpless patients.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

[Image source]

DA Welcomes GSARC Inquiry Into Racial Comments By Velaphi Khumalo

The DA welcomes the inquiry by the Gauteng Department of Sport, Art, Recreation and Culture (SARC) – into the racist comments made by one of the departments’ employees, Velaphi Khumalo, which was posted on social media.

The DA condemns any form of racism and anything that incites violence and hatred towards others.

Section 16 of the Bill of Rights, on freedom of expression, states that the freedom to express oneself does not extend to, propaganda for war, incitement of imminent violence, or advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.

We are encouraged by the department’s swift action against its employee and we look forward to learning the outcome of this internal inquiry.

I am heartened by the MEC for SARC, Faith Mazibuko’s, immediate response in this regard as her department’s key mandate is in fact nation building and social cohesion.

Racism has no place in a democratic South Africa.


Media enquiries:

Paul Willemburg MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Sport, Arts, Culture and Heritage

082 450 0815

Tembisa South Policing area: Only 18 officers for more than 110 000 residents

The Democratic Alliance recently asked the Minister of Police, Nkosinathi Nhleko, questions on the state of affairs at the Tembisa South Police Station with regards to visible policing.

Tembisa South is responsible for the policing of the following sectors:

  • Sector 1, which consists of Tembisa, Jiyana, Isivana, Isishjetweni, Ibaxa, Welamlambo and Ethafeni;
  • Sector 2, consisting of Vusimuzi and hostels, Vusimuzi squatter camp, Enhlanzeni,Tembisa Plaza, Thiteng and Tembisa Taxi Rank, Mpho and Lekaneng; and
  • Sector 3, which consists of Moedi, Khatamping, Endayini, Umnonjaneni Esiqongweni, Entshonalanga, Umthambeka Ext 5, and Umfuyaneni sections.

As a result, it was revealed that the Tembisa South Police Station is responsible for the policing of 3 large sectors which combined is home to staggering 111 926 residents.

Based on the replies I received from Minister Nhleko however, the Tembisa South Police Station is severely underequipped in terms of vehicles and staff. In fact, on any given shift there are a maximum of only six visible police officers which results in a ratio of one officer for every 18 654 residents.

This is not visible policing but rather window dressing where police stations are forced to tick boxes.

It is unacceptable that in total, there are only 18 police officers available to tend to the safety needs of more than 110 000 residents.

It is due to a lack of visible policing that during the first week of December 2015, Mr Pheneas Kekana was murdered in his home in Lekaneng Section.

Between 2013/2014 and 2014/2015, drug related crime increased by 174 cases, murder increased by 30 cases, sexual offences by increased by 58 cases and burglaries at residential premises increased by 260 cases in Tembisa South.

Given these worrisome statistics, the government needs to provide more visible police officers.

In addition the DA also asked the minister how visible policing is conducted in the Vusimuzi Informal Settlement where there are no roads. Minister Nhleko replied that foot patrols are conducted mostly during weekends and that 4×4 double cabs are utilized to patrol the area.

How can two officers per shift patrol such a large area and be affective?

The residents of Sector 2 cannot be kept safe if only a total of 6 officers for three shifts are allocated to this vast area and are expected to patrol mostly by foot.

Therefore I will be petitioning Minister Nhleko to urgently intervene in this regard by allocating more visible police officers to Tembisa South.

All residents have the right to a safe living environment and can only be kept safe from crime when our police stations are equipped and staffed to be equal to their task.


Media enquiries:

Mike Waters MP

Lethabong Constituency Head

082 902 4523