Stolen school fence to be replaced with concrete palisades

Thieves have stolen large sections of the steel fence around Athlone Boys High School in Bezuidenhout Valley, Johannesburg, but it will be replaced with concrete palisades.

This information is revealed in a written reply by Gauteng Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

I took up this issue after local residents complained that stolen steel from the fence was being sold to a scrap yard, and that drug dealers were entering the school through the broken fence.

According to Lesufi, his department has included Athlone Boys on the list of high risk schools as the fence is continuously being vandalised. The whole southern part of the fence is gone.

See photos here and here.

The fence is due to be replaced in the current financial year, and I am sure that residents will be pleased when this keeps criminal elements away.

Patients suffer and R4.8 million is lost as computers break down at George Mukhari Hospital

Patient care has been badly affected at the George Mukhari Hospital in north-west Gauteng due to the breakdown of their computer system, which has also resulted in a revenue loss of R4.8 million.

This is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Mokgethi, the Medicom system at the hospital has not been functional since 23 January this year. The infrastructure equipment for Medicom was acquired between 2011 and 2012, but it was no longer under warranty or supported by the original manufacturer.

Mokgethi says that “as a result of continuous exposure to occasional power outages and the age of the equipment, the equipment was compromised and failed.”

The result for patients is “a huge negative impact on service delivery” as old patient files cannot be retrieved and new paper files have to be opened. Furthermore, there is “inability to retrieve files for medico-legal cases, Road Accident Fund claims, follow-up of information for SA National Blood Services, follow-up of complaints lodged.”

Manual registers are being used instead, which require “intense monitoring” as they have drawbacks that include:

  1. High risk of fraud
  2. It can be stolen or misplaced
  3. There is no backup

The estimated revenue loss because patients cannot be properly billed and debts followed up is estimated at R4.8 million.

The Department concedes that this outdated system cannot be fixed and says that the hospital has been prioritised for the new health information system which they envisage will start on 11 July 2022.

The reason that patients are still suffering from an outdated system is because of massive corruption under former Health MEC Brian Hlongwa who is currently on bail facing charges of fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering along with former senior Gauteng Health officials.

One of the charges is the award of a R1.2 billion tender to the Baoki consortium in 2008 to set up a health information system and electronic health record. They were paid more than R400 million before their contract was cancelled a year later with no system installed.

I have long advocated a new health information system and I hope they finally get this right as it is crucial to improve efficiency and to cut queues for patients.


Abandoned Kempton Park Hospital used for alleged criminal activities

The abandoned Kempton Park Hospital is now allegedly being used for criminal activities instead of being refurbished and re-opened to help to ease pressure at Tembisa and Edenvale Hospital, which are currently overcrowded and unable to render adequate healthcare services.


Residents of Kempton Park cannot continue to travel long distances to Tembisa and Edenvale Hospital to receive healthcare services, while their nearest hospital has been abandoned.


The DA conducted an oversight inspection at the abandoned Kempton Park Hospital following numerous complaints from the residents about the alleged criminal activities happening in the building. We were disappointed to discover that there were learners in school uniforms from the neighbouring schools inside the abandoned hospital during school hours. These learners have found a new ‘chilling’ spot where they are prone to indulging in alleged criminal activities.


The DA will continue to put pressure on both the Gauteng Department of Health and the Department of Infrastructure Development to ensure that this hospital is revamped and re-opened as people in this area are in dire need of this facility. We will be tabling follow-up questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) to ascertain when the renovations of this hospital will begin and when the hospital will be re-opened.

Heart patients suffer as 4 out of 10 beds out of action at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital

The lives of critically ill heart patients are at risk at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital (CMJH) as four out of ten acute beds cannot be used as they are in the fire-damaged section.

According to Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature, there are at least two or three acute patients waiting for beds at any one time.

These patients may wait between 24 and 48 hours to get a bed. Mokgethi says that the effect of long waiting times is that:

“some patients may not be treated timeously in a cardiac Intensive Care Unit (ICU) setting but instead cared for in a general ward or at the referring facility. Some patients may deteriorate while waiting to be transferred to tertiary care.”

There are only four cardiology departments in public hospitals in Gauteng, and CMJH takes patients directly from casualty or from 14 referring hospitals.

The CMJH cardiac unit current has 36 nursing staff, but needs a minimum of 48 nursing staff.

New ICU beds are needed at CMJH as the current ones are at the end of their working lives, and they also need 6 new cardiac monitors and 2 new mobile suction units.

It is tragic that the delay in fixing the hospital has led to many severely ill heart patients not getting the best care to save their lives.

Doctors feel hopeless when they lose patients who could have been saved if there was proper staff and equipment.

The DA will continue to press for the urgent upgrade of facilities to provide quality care to all heart patients.



Gauteng ANC’s elective conference results show that it’s time for a DA-led government in the province

The elevation of the divisive and corruption-accused Panyaza Lesufi to the ANC’s presumptive Gauteng Premier Candidate for 2024 confirms the urgency of replacing the ANC with a DA-led government in the province.

Lesufi is not a leader, and our residents are in dire need of a leader who has the best interests of the province at heart. He has a long record of dividing and scapegoating the people of Gauteng for his litany of failures as the MEC for Education.

Furthermore, Lesufi also faces many unanswered questions about the corruption of the R450 million tender on the decontamination of schools during the Covid-19 pandemic, of thus plunging Gauteng into decline. This makes him part and parcel of the problem.

Instead of being further divided and failed by an ANC-led government, our residents deserve a new government that will unite and serve in the best interest of the province.

It is time that our residents use their vote in the upcoming 2024 elections to stop the corrupt ANC and put in place a government that will only act in the best interests of the residents it serves.

Where the DA governs in the various Gauteng municipalities, we are already demonstrating that we are committed to ensuring that basic services are delivered unhindered and that our taxpayers’ money is used to uplift the communities they serve.


No holding cells at Lyttelton SAPS: suspects kept inside a truck for hours

More than fifty suspects have been kept at the back of a police truck since this morning because of a lack of holding cells at Lyttelton Police Station in Centurion.

This is unacceptable and violates the rights of the suspects as they were kept in a truck without food, water, sufficient ventilation, and access to ablution facilities.

These suspects were supposed to have appeared in court this morning but were turned away due to an alleged outage at the court due to a sub-station that was flooded by heavy rains. The police officers on duty were struggling to find available cells at the nearby police stations to hold the suspects until their next scheduled appearance tomorrow, as other stations had no available capacity at their cells.

This police station has been without holding cells for the past seven years now and has been using Sunnyside SAPS’ cells to keep suspects which is approximately 20 km away. This is costing the station more money in terms of fuel costs in transporting the suspects and hampers police service delivery as they must escort the suspects instead of conducting visible policing. In addition, there is an increased risk of suspects escaping from lawful custody while being transported to Sunnyside SAPS.

The DA conducted an oversight inspection in March and again today to see for ourselves what the current situation is with regards to the holding cells at Lyttleton SAPS. Please see the video here.

We also wrote to the MEC of Community Safety, Faith Mazibuko to ascertain when the new holding cells will be built at Lyttelton SAPS.

In her reply, MEC Mazibuko states that at this stage they cannot confirm when the holding cells will be built. The matter is being prioritised by the SAPS and has been reported to the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure.

The building of holding cells at this police station can no longer be delayed without a proper action plan. The DA demands that MEC Mazibuko urgently engages the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure to prioritize the building of the holding cells at Lyttleton Police Station to ensure that police service delivery continues without any further interruptions.

Pride is a heavy price to pay

South Africa’s Bill of Rights provides that no one may be discriminated against by either the state or any other person on the grounds of gender or sexual orientation, among others. It further states that national legislation must be enacted to prevent or prohibit unfair discrimination.

Despite having constitutional and legislative protection of the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual plus (LGBTQIA+) community, there are distinct disparities between the policies that govern the country and the lived experiences of the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly those in townships and rural areas. LGBTQIA+ persons continue to face stigma, prejudice, and violence on a daily basis around the country which simply means that the protection afforded to this community by the Constitution is certainly not always guaranteed.

At least 20 LGBTQIA+ individuals were brutally killed across South Africa between February and October last year when the country witnessed an increase in the number of attacks against lesbians, gays and transgender people. Many of the victims were beaten or stabbed to death. Evidently, these victims were targeted because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. To illustrate, on 27 April 25-year-old Musa Xulu was gunned down in public while buying items at a garage in Inanda. It is reported that a man said he hated gays and thereafter shot him dead in the parking lot.

According to a 2017 survey conducted by the Centre of Risk Analysis at the South African Institute for Race Relations, four in 10 LGBTQIA+ South Africans know of someone who had been murdered because of their sexuality. In addition, black members of this community were almost twice as likely (49%) as white respondents (26%) to know of someone who was murdered on these grounds.

As a society firmly entrenched in patriarchy and misogyny, many South Africans still perceive LGBTQIA+ individuals as inherently immoral and/or “un-African” and therefore pay little attention to the violence that they endure daily. This is indicative of the work that needs to be done in changing societal attitudes in our communities. As the tally of hate crimes against LGBTQIA+ persons increases, there are additional calls to the government to take action, yet there has been continued limited recognition of the violence and victimisation towards this community.

While the South African Constitution states that LGBTQIA+ persons should freely enjoy the same rights as non-LGBTQIA+ persons, both the state and its institutions have failed to protect LGBTQIA+ people and have therefore been complicit in the further victimisation they faced.

Results from a 2016 OUT survey show that close to 88% of LGBTQI+ hate crimes in South Africa go unreported, which demonstrates the discouragingly low levels of faith the community has in the police. This challenge of visibility is further compounded by a lack of reporting of violence targeting LGBTQIA+ individuals. An influencing factor is the abuse and discrimination this community suffers at the hands of the police, which often prevents the reporting of crimes.

It is time for South Africa to respond decisively to this growing problem by adopting preventive measures against homophobic hate speech and hate crimes. The Democratic Alliance (DA) is committed to challenging human rights violations that target the LGBTQIA+ community. We reiterate that we are committed to being part of the solution.

As long as people are persecuted, threatened or harmed for simply being who they are, we cannot say that this segment of the population has “full and equal enjoyment of all rights and freedoms”. As the DA, we will continue fighting for equal opportunities, justice, and rights for all members of the LGBTQIA+ community, while educating and sensitising members of society about the struggles and dangers faced by the LGBTQIA+ community.

Furthermore, we continue to call on the government to fast-track the implementation of the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill of 2018. Currently, there exists no clear schedule and timeframes as to when the Bill will be passed.

As noted above, there remains a material disparity between the constitutional and legislative framework in relation to the advancement of LGBTQIA+ rights and the practical implementation and execution of those rights. No one should live in fear of expressing who they are in both private and public spaces.

It is for this reason that we are challenging our DA-led local governments to lead the way in ensuring that LGBTQIA+ initiatives become a reality, and not just a talk shop. This is the only way in which we can ensure that this vulnerable group is given a safe space in which they are able to freely discuss the challenges they face on a daily basis and highlight what needs to change in various government departments to address these challenges.

To advance the plight of the country’s LGBTQIA+ community and to further bring these atrocities to light, we need effective reporting and analysis of violence against them and the documentation of their needs and challenges. While Pride Month in South Africa has generated much-needed visibility for the LGBTQIA+ community, we should further ensure that the very institutions that are tasked with safeguarding and enhancing these rights, do what they have been mandated to do.

Over 30 thousand duplicate invoices in one year shows the Gauteng Department of Health is vulnerable to fraud and corruption

The Gauteng Department of Health for the last financial year has received 34 856 duplicate invoices, clearing indicating that measures to prevent this are failing.

This information was revealed to me in a written reply to my questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) to the MEC for Health, Nomathemba Mokgethi regarding duplicate invoices received from suppliers. The total rand value of the duplicate invoices amounted to R24 256 537 105,09, for the period 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022.

According to the MEC, the duplication of invoices arises when a Supplier/Service Provider uploads the same invoice more than once on the EIS (Electronic Invoice Submission (EIS) — a system developed by the Gauteng Provincial Government to facilitate the paperless submission of invoices from suppliers. Whilst the suppliers use an Electronic Invoice Submission (EIS) system, a 3-way financial check is done once the invoice has been submitted, however, with the high number of duplicates it would appear as if this system is not being strictly adhered to.

It is deeply concerning that the MEC puts all the blame for duplicate invoices on the suppliers which highlights the inadequate training given to suppliers about the uploading of invoices. There is also a need to refine the system as a matter of urgency to prevent invoices from being uploaded more than once, and the possibility of suppliers using this loophole in the system to defraud the state of taxpayers’ money.

The department in collaboration with the Gauteng Provincial Treasury needs to put in place proper checks and balances to stop the uploading of duplicate invoices as it can potentially result in serious financial losses for the department.

Other departments like Social Development and Education, which has responded to similar questions, have indicated that they did not receive any duplicate invoices from suppliers who use the same system to upload their invoices to the departments for payment.

The DA is demanding that the Department of Health must learn from its counterparts in terms of best practices, so that duplicate invoices can be avoided in future. If this is not done, it might mean that this system is open to fraud and possible corruption.

Gauteng Health pays out R228m for medical negligence

Since January last year, the Gauteng Health Department has been forced to pay R228 million by 78 court-ordered attachments of its bank accounts to pay for medical negligence.

This was revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

The amounts paid out range from R7301 for a case first laid in 2014, and the largest amount is R18.1 million for a case that also dates back to 2014.

The oldest case dates back to 2013 for an amount of R8.99 million.

Previously, the Sheriff of the court used to attach furniture from the Department’s head office, but lawyers now attach the Department’s bank accounts directly.

It is shameful that the Department has to be forced to pay court-ordered damages instead of paying promptly following the court case.

Meanwhile, the victims of medical negligence have to wait longer for the payments that are due to them.

The tidal wave of negligence claims continues – 157 new summonses which claim R1.6 billion were sent to the Department in the last year.

Furthermore, 6910 Serious Adverse Events (SAEs) were recorded in Gauteng public hospitals last year, compared to 4701 SAEs in 2020 and 4170 SAEs in 2019.

This highlights the urgent need to improve hospital management, fill all staff vacancies, and ensure working equipment so that patients get proper care without medical negligence.



Bodies rot as Ga-Rankuwa mortuary has no working generator

Relatives are traumatised as bodies deteriorate at the Ga-Rankuwa state mortuary whenever there’s an Eskom power cut as there is no functional emergency generator since February this year.

According to Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature:

“A dysfunctional emergency generator has contributed largely to the situation, including frequent load shedding and electricity reductions in the Garankuwa area. In case of load shedding, bodies are temporarily stored in freezer storage and taken out early in the morning for post-mortem.”

Mokgethi also details a series of incidents starting on 26 February when the back-up generator failed after an Eskom substation collapsed. Bodies were transferred to the Pretoria Forensic Laboratory Service facility on 27 February and were only returned on 1 March.

On 5 March the generator again failed and it was reported that the fuel tank needed to be cleaned.

The root of the problem is poor service from the Gauteng Infrastructure Development Department (GDID), which is responsible for the generators at Gauteng’s eight provincial mortuaries which do autopsies for all unnatural deaths.

On 10 March it was determined that the Ga-Rankuwa mortuary’s generator needed a new alternator. But despite many requests, the GDID said that they were “having a challenge of getting Purchase Order approval as some of the approving officials were on suspension.”

On 26 May, GDID attended to the generator but used the old alternator, so they need to be called if the electricity goes off to start the generator manually.

The latest is that GDID Tshwane office “still awaits approval for the appointment of a contractor by the GDID Supply Chain Management Unit.”

Meanwhile, funeral operators complain that bodies from this mortuary come to them in a poor state, which upsets relatives.

This distressing saga highlights once again the necessity of the DA’s call to shut down the dysfunctional and corrupt GDID and devolve maintenance to health facilities who will do a better job.