Broken air-con and flooding at Charlotte Maxeke hospital delays pet scans for cancer patients

A PET scan machine used for diagnosing cancer patients at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital has been out of action for more than three weeks because of broken air-conditioning that causes it to overheat.

This was revealed today by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in an oral reply to my questions at a sitting of the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Mokgethi, 120 to 150 cancer patients have been adversely affected by the lack of PET scans at the hospital.

The air-conditioning unit has been overhauled and was due to be calibrated yesterday (Monday 29 November), but this could not be done because of flooding at the hospital from broken pipes.

It is most distressing that cancer patients face further delays in treatment because of poor maintenance at this hospital, which often results in broken machines and flooding that disrupts operations.

The flooding yesterday has also forced the closure of the ICU wards used for Covid-19 patient which is an untimely blow as 4th wave cases surge.

Meanwhile, no firm date can be given for the complete re-opening of the hospital which was damaged by fire in April this year.

A higher priority needs to be given to maintenance at the hospital otherwise more machine and building failures will occur that endanger the lives of hundreds of patients.

Grade 1 and 8 placements must be finalised before school closes for the 2021 academic year to ensure that no child misses schooling

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is urging the Gauteng Department of Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi to finalise online admission placement for Grade 1 and 8 before schools close to ensure that no learner misses a day of schooling when the 2022 academic year begins.

Failure by the department to allocate schools to learners before the school closes for this year will result in uncertainty as not all learners will be placed on time. Based on previous experience, delays in placement have had a huge impact on the future of children, where many learners across the province have missed months of schooling due to late placement.

The DA had cautioned the department to open the online admission process early so that they can finalise all placements before the end of November. It is important that this process is done to ensure proper planning for both parents and schools in preparing for the new academic year.

The DA believes that the department must use the current applications to provide additional resources to schools. This includes amongst others, recruiting more teachers, providing additional classrooms, building new schools, and delivery of LTSM.

While the DA supports online admission because it saves time for parents and schools, however, the current process is not transparent and raises many questions instead of offering solutions.

We demand that the online admission system must be reviewed as it takes away parental choice and creates uncertainty amongst parents as they are not sure whether their children will be placed or not.

Many learners across the province have lost out due to rotational learning and teaching, this will continue again next year as many learners are still waiting to be allocated schools. I have been inundated with calls from parents complaining that they are either not offered the school of their choice or they have not yet received any feedback from the department.

The department must finalise the placement of learners before schools close for the 2021 academic year to avoid any further disruption of learning and teaching in January and February next year.

Little economic relief for unemployed residents while cost of financial misconduct in Gauteng Govt at R4.6m during 2020/21 financial year

While residents continue suffering the consequences of forced unemployment due to the national government’s failed Covid-19 lockdown, It comes as no surprise that the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) has had a high number of disciplinary hearings due to financial misconduct. 56 cases of financial misconduct, at a cost of R4 627 440-52, were reported during the 2020/21 financial year, as revealed in the State of Public Service in Gauteng report that was presented to the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

Departments listed are:

• COGTA- 5
• Community Safety- 1
• Education- 4
• e-Government- 1
• Health- 42
• Office of the Premier- 2
• Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation- 1

The Democratic Alliance ascribes this re-occurrence of financial misconduct purely to the lack of effective consequence management and has been warning departments year after year during discussions of annual reports that the situation will worsen as long as consequence management is only words on paper without any action. A long list of applicable legislation exists to assist in the curbing of financial misconduct but again as long as the political will is missing, no progress will be recorded.

What is even more concerning is that no criminal action has been taken against any of the officials found guilty of financial misconduct.

According to the report, 56% of the officials found guilty were given a final written warning, while 16% were dismissed and the other 16% were given both a final written warning and summarily dismissed.

The 2020/21 financial year has recorded the highest value not recovered by departments since the 2016/17 financial year, totalling R3,019 879.44.

This money was flushed down the drain, while some of these officials remains in public service where they can continue to defraud the State and waste taxpayers’ money.

To add further added insult to injury we have noted that the department of Infrastructure Development appointed consultants to assist with investigations into allegations of financial misconduct. This means that more money is now being spent on consultants, with less funds available to improve the lives of residents.

The costs for employees currently suspended with pay due to pending disciplinary cases for the 2021/22 financial year are as follows:

• Community Safety- R174 156,50
• Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation- R1 959 522,52
• Social Development- R25 451,80
• Roads and Transport- R1 632 280,47
• Education – R2 153 956,41 with one employee on suspension for 683 days thus far

The only way in which officials can be deterred from such behaviour is if consequence management takes place which will prevent them from working in the public service again and if their names are added to a registry of public servants found guilty of financial misconduct. Even when people resign, this does not mean the disciplinary action now needs to fall away – consequences must still follow. In addition to this, their pension fund payments can be attached and is one of several options available to effectively recover the bulk of the money lost due to financial misconduct.

Financial misconduct is serious and should be dealt with in an appropriate manner as this is the only way in which corruption can be rooted out and that our taxpayers’ money is spent in the correct and most cost-effective manner that will ensure service delivery for all, and it is the only way that will put us on a path towards sustainable and inclusive development.

Loss of income from Covid-19 lockdown main contributing factor to 90% increase in Gauteng suicide cases

While residents continue to suffer the consequences of the economically disastrous Covid-19 lockdown of 2020 and 2021, cases of suicide in the province have increased by 90%, from 695 cases reported during the 2019/20 financial year to 1325 deaths reported since April 2020 to date.

In a reply to my written question to the MEC for Community Safety, Faith Mazibuko, it was revealed that the contributing factors to those choosing to end their life included depression, loss of income during the COVID-19 pandemic, financial difficulties, death of family members and domestic violence.

It is terribly sad to imagine what pain these vulnerable individuals had been going through to reach such a dark point in their life. Even survivors of suicide have disclosed that it is never an easy decision, and mostly one taken out of desperation to release themselves from the pain they have no way of eradicating.

What is even further disturbing is that the Gauteng Department of Social Development (DSD) has no specific programmes that directly tackle the increase in suicide rates.

In a reply to my written question to the MEC for Social Development, Morakane Mosupyoe, the department only has social workers who provide a broad range of social, emotional, behavioural, school and family interventions using methods of practice in communities and schools.

These include prevention and awareness programmes that mostly focus on building resilience of communities, learners, and youth such as Social Behaviour Change programmes, Parenting Programmes and Ke Moja Drug Prevention programmes. Further to this, the department provides psychosocial support services, screening, referrals and management of cases of affected learners and their families, while the provision of therapeutic interventions includes individual therapy for those with emotional and behavioural problems, individual counselling bereavement/grief support, and referrals for specialised services and support, group therapy, trauma debriefing and family therapy.

The department lastly stated that they provide crises interventions and rapid responses to deal with incidents such as learner deaths, child protection, abuse and neglect, trauma debriefing, bereavement, violence, depression, and attempted suicide.

While these services are the bare minimum that any social development department should provide, there is still an urgent need for government to formulate more programmes that are far more focused on the issues of suicide and mental illnesses. The stigma of these still exist in society and far too many people are suffering in silence and isolation.

The Gauteng DSD must embark on a more aggressive awareness campaign of what counselling and support services are available to those who are suffering.  Many victims feel that there is no help within their reach, and therefore need to me made more aware of what services are available and where they can access them.

The Department can start off with making their website far more easily accessible through a simple Google search, as it is currently impossible to find any such website. Imagine how frustrating this must be for someone considering suicide, but still trying to seek help.

The Gauteng DSD website should have a dedicated page of all resources available to those suffering any form of mental illness, that includes the closest services available to them. When one is suffering through depression, it takes a profound amount of effort to try pull themselves out, and therefore it should not require so much effort to access the help they deserve.

Depression is the silent pandemic that has been ignored for far too long. If we are wanting to be a more caring and sympathetic society, we need to acknowledge and confront this pandemic head on.


43% of Gauteng government entities have an acting CEO or CFO while residents endure atrocious service delivery

Gauteng residents are currently suffering from no running water, electricity outages and a harsh economic climate. During our scrutiny of the provincial government’s performance as part of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) week, a correlation emerged that is often ignored because it seems to be unrelated to daily suffering.

The Gauteng Provincial Government have a number of key vacancies in departments that have not been permanently filled and instead have officials acting in the positions.

This information was revealed by the Auditor-General of South Africa in its report on the audit outcomes for our province.

According to this report the following departments have acting officials in key positions:

  • Office of the Premier- Accounting Officer (1)
  • Economic Development- Head of Supply Chain Management (1)
  • Health- Accounting Officer, Chief Financial Officer and Head of Supply Chain Management (3)
  • Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs- Accounting Officer (1)
  • Roads and Transport- Accounting Officer and Head of Supply Chain Management (2)
  • Community Safety- Head of Supply Chain Management (1)
  • Agriculture and Rural Development- Chief Financial Officer (1)
  • Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation- Chief Financial Officer and Head of Supply Chain Management (2)
  • e-Government- No Head of Supply Chain Management (1)

While the following entities have acting officials in key positions;

  • Gauteng Gambling Board- Chief Financial Officer (1)
  • Gauteng Film Commission- Chief Executive Officer (1)
  • Cradle of Human Kind- Chief Executive Officer (1)
  • Dinokeng- Chief Executive Officer (1)
  • G-Fleet- Chief Financial Officer (1)
  • MEDSAS- Chief Financial Officer (1)
  • Gauteng Partnership Fund- Head of Supply Chain Management (1)

According to the Auditor General’s report, because these vacancies have not been permanently filled, it will likely have a negative impact on the 2021/22 audit outcomes.

Persons who perform in an acting capacity often operate in very uncertain, even toxic conditions where decisions cannot be made, forward planning is not done, and staff cannot be managed effectively due the uncertainty of working in an acting capacity.

This trend is extremely concerning as it hampers is the effectiveness of service delivery to the residents of Gauteng. Having critical vacancies like those of CEOs, CFOs and Head of Supply Chain Management is extremely important to bring stability to the department and entity.

The DA has learnt from our experience in governance that a stable and capable bureaucracy is of paramount importance. Filling vacancies with capable, fit for purpose staff helps to ensure that the departments run efficiently and that there is value for money where goods and services need to be procured.

Furthermore, corruption can be clamped down and there will be no room for properly mandated and trained officials to deviate from the guidelines set out by Treasury when it comes to the effective delivery of services to our residents.

It emerged during the SCOPA hearings that in many instances, acting staff are not competent and capable of fulfilling their duties. Cadre deployment renders competent bureaucrats uncertain about their future prospects and career paths. The situation can be remedied in the long term by ending the cadre deployment policy of the ANC, and replacing it with a fit for purpose recruitment and selection policy.

The DA will continue to monitor the timeous filling of vacancies so that the performance of all our departments can be on the same level that will ensure seamless service delivery to our residents and we will continue to advocate for benchmarked recruitment policies that progressively realise a capable state.

31 521 Gauteng health workers are not vaxxed against Covid

Despite high Covid-19 infections, 31 521 (36%) out of 86 630 health workers employed by the Gauteng Health Department are not fully vaccinated.

This bombshell information was revealed yesterday (23 November) in a Gauteng Health Department presentation at a meeting of the Gauteng Legislature’s health committee.

According to the Department, 55 109 (64%) of health workers are fully vaccinated.

 Since the start of the pandemic, 16 236 health workers have been infected with Covid-19, of whom 1908 had to be admitted to hospital and 111 died.

Ambulance staff have been badly affected, with 615 (24%) testing positive to date out of a total of 2544 Emergency Management Service (EMS) staff, with three deaths.

The Department blames the high number of staff declining vaccination on ‘false propaganda on social media. Approximately 15-20% of EMS staff do not want to take vaccine as they do not trust the vaccine.”

While the constitutional rights of people to refuse the vaccine need to be respected, there are compelling occupational safety reasons for health staff to be vaccinated as they have a higher risk of infection and could infect co-workers or patients.

The Western Cape Health Department is doing better in this regard with more than 76% of its employees vaccinated.

As we head towards a likely fourth wave of infection, more needs to be done to dispel vaccine misinformation in Gauteng, both amongst health workers and the general public.

This will save lives and ease the strain on our hospitals. 

Residents remain desperate for dignified housing while Gauteng Human Settlements underspent by R226m

Gauteng residents across the province are in desperate need of dignified housing, while some residing in hostels and informal settlements continue to live in inhumane and appalling conditions due to the Gauteng Department of Human Settlement’s failure to spend its allocated budget for housing.

Many people are forced to rent backyard rooms in townships and space to erect their shacks in someone’s yard, yet they have been on the housing waiting lists for years with still no guarantee on whether they will be allocated housing.

The Gauteng Department of Human Settlements revealed in their annual report that they had underspent by R226 million for the 2020/21 financial year.

The R226 million could have built 1,948 houses. If these were to accommodate families of four, 7,792 people would have been housed. While this would be only be a minor dent in the massive housing backlog, it would have been a step forward for residents looking for a roof over their heads.

According to the report, the department severely underspent in the following programmes: R147,669,000 on the Housing Delivery Programme, underspent by R31,471,000 on the Housing Assets Management Property Planning Programme and R4,685,000 on the Housing Needs, Research and Planning Programme.

Furthermore, the department also underspent on Conditional Grant 1 for Human Settlements Development Grant (HSDG) by R60 872 000 and also underspent on Conditional Grant 2: Title Deeds Restoration Grants (TRG) by R12 153 000.

This under expenditure by the department is also noted in the Auditor General’s (AG) report which highlights that the department had irregular expenditure amounting to R361 816 000 as a result of supply chain management processes not followed. The department also incurred fruitless and wasteful expenditure to the amount of R118 369 000 in the year under review.

In terms of the internal controls deficiencies, the AG made the following findings: the accounting officer failed to exercise oversight responsibility regarding financial and performance reporting and compliance, senior management did not implement effective controls over daily and monthly processing and reconciling of transactions to support financial reporting on various disclosure items and did not review and monitor compliance with relevant laws and regulations, resulting in material non-compliance.

For far too long, the DA has been demanding that the Gauteng MEC for Human Settlements, Lebogang Maile implement operational accountability to ensure that all staff are committed and accountable to their obligations. There is consistent, huge underspending in the department because senior managers are not held to account.

This department needs to show some empathy and care about our resident’s dire need for dignified housing.

The DA will continue to hold MEC Maile accountable for his department’s failure to spend on its allocated budget and committing a serious crime against the most vulnerable residents by failing to spend the housing budget.

A new beginning for Mogale City as DA is elected to govern

The DA wishes to congratulate Cllr Tyrone Gray who was today elected the Executive Mayor for Mogale City Local Municipality. The comes after a vote of support from other opposition parties and affirms their faith in the DA’s ability to govern.

Cllr Jacqueline Pannall has been elected the new Council Speaker and will preside over Council meetings and perform duties in line with the role.

Mogale City has been plagued by serious service delivery challenges, financial mismanagement and lack of economic growth and productivity.

The DA is excited to bring its brand of good governance and to turn things around for the embattled municipality.

On our to-do list will be to get the basics right by working to restore service delivery, revitalising the local economy and fixing the public transport system.

We are aware that success will not be achieved overnight, but our team of councillors are capable and up to the task.

The DA wishes Mayor Gray and his team well.

Only 17 out of 134 train sets operational in Gauteng while commuters still forced to use overcrowded trains

Residents of Gauteng have been let down by the public transport system, especially the railway system in the province.

Currently, there are 134 train sets that are not operational the province, while there are only 17 sets available.

However, due to vandalism, the 17 train sets that are available cannot be utilised optimally, leaving commuters to find an alternative, and often more expensive means of getting to and from work.

This information was revealed to the DA by the MEC for Transport Jacob Mamabolo from my questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

The answers received from MEC Mamabolo is deeply worrying as this means that residents who cannot afford any other mode of transport, face greater difficulty in getting to work.

Travel by rail is by far the cheapest way to travel to and from work, however the inability of our provincial Transport department to ensure that this critical piece of infrastructure is safeguarded and properly maintained has led to this service now being underutilised. In addition, a better rail transport system that is maintained properly and has proper security on an ongoing basis will save the province millions in repairing critical transport infrastructure.

This has led to severe overcrowding in other transport services, non-adherence to Covid-19 protocols and loss of much-needed revenue.

While the department has plans to ensure that 20 train sets are recovered through maintenance by the end of this financial year, ideally al l134 train sets that are not in operation must be fixed and put back into operation as a matter of urgency.

This will ensure that pressure is eased on other modes of public transport and will also drastically reduce travel times to and from work.

The DA will continue to put pressure and demand that our railway system is fixed as a matter of urgency so that our residents can have the all three modes of public transport available to them at all times.

Residents’ safety at risk as 459 Gauteng police officers are under investigation for committing serious criminal offences

The safety and security of Gauteng residents are worryingly compromised as police officers tasked with a responsibility to prevent anything that may threaten the safety or security of any resident and to ensure criminals are brought to justice, are also currently being investigated for committing serious criminal offences.

Such acts have resulted in people losing the critical trust and confidence needed in law enforcement agencies, and leaving residents more vulnerable.

This information was revealed by the Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, Faith Mazibuko in a written reply to my questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

According to MEC Mazibuko, 459 police officers in Gauteng currently have criminal cases open against them. These criminal cases range from reckless and negligent driving, common assault, assault with intentions to cause grievous bodily harm, attempted murder, theft, house and business robbery, fraud, corruption, bribery, and domestic violence.

The top three stations with the most offenders are the Tsakane police station with 35 police officers currently under investigation for theft, assault common and reckless and negligent driving. This is followed by the Krugersdorp police station with 28 police officers all charged with reckless and negligent driving. At number three, the Benoni and Hekpoort police stations each have 15 police officers, where the Benoni police station officers are under investigation for reckless and negligent driving, attempted murder, and theft while the Hekpoort police officers are charged with common assault and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

It is a clear indication that SAPS is failing in its responsibility to prevent, combat, and investigate crime as well as ensure that police officers uphold the rule of law instead of breaking it.

It is high time that the current national government responds to the DA’s demand to do a complete overhaul of SAPS by curbing corruption, hiring people with a passion for policing, and retaining good police officers to make the police service honest, professional, and one that serves and protects the people.

The DA will continue to hold both MEC Mazibuko and Gauteng SAPS Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Elias Mawela to account to ensure that police officers adhere to the SAPS code of conduct and always abide by the law. There should be an urgent intervention strategy in those top police stations severely affected to ensure that officers abide by the SAPS code of conduct and maintain a high standard of discipline and professionalism.