Years of neglect have left Lenasia South Hospital in a state of crisis

Note to Editors: See pictures here , here and here

Concerns over the exploitation of cleaners and nepotism allegations at Lenasia South Hospital have fallen on deaf ears and continue to affect the rendering of healthcare services to the community.

It is alleged that there is a high level of absenteeism among the nursing staff, yet the hospital management is not doing enough to curb it and discipline those involved.

Since 2010 Lenasia community leaders have been raising concerns to the hospital management about hospital cleaners being used by the nurses and administration staff to do admin work.

In 2014, the complainants had their lives threatened by the management for raising their concerns. To date, nothing has come out of the complaints and a case they opened with the police.

The complaints include the busing in of people as far as Alexandra to fulfil the learnerships programme at the hospital and allegations of “sex for jobs” by management.

Furthermore, the waiting times for treatment have increased dramatically. A recent incident involves allegations that the nurses refused to assist a woman in labour because they were on a tea break. The woman had to be rushed to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, where she gave birth shortly after arrival.

During the DA’s oversight inspection at the hospital, we also discovered that there is a continued increase in unhygienic conditions. The garbage is not collected timeously, and there are piles of rubbish, see pictures here, here, here, and here.

In addition, the hospital has security issues, and its parking area is open for use by big trucks blocking parking spaces for patients.

The community arranged a peaceful protest at the hospital on Wednesday, 17 August 2022 to highlight their concerns. On hearing about the planned protest, the hospital has already advertised jobs for cleaners and groundsmen. The community is also running with a petition regarding the neglect will be submitted to GPL and we as the DA will follow up on the matter.

The DA supports the peaceful protest by the community and the petition, and we will be writing to the Gauteng MEC for Health, Nomathemba Mokgethi, to intervene and investigate these serious allegations levelled against the hospital management. Should it be found that any member of the hospital management is implicated they must be held to account.

The DA will continue to monitor service delivery at this hospital to ensure that quality healthcare services are rendered at all times.

Tembisa Hospital CEO still not grilled on fishy payments

Despite weeks of disturbing revelations of fishy multimillion payments by the Tembisa Hospital, the hospital’s CEO Ashley Mthunzi has still not been grilled by the Gauteng Health Department in this matter.

This was disclosed last week on Friday by Head of Department Nomonde Nolutshungu at a meeting of the Gauteng Legislature’s Health Committee.

Nolutshungu said that following the first News24 exposé on 27 July of the suspicious payments flagged by murdered whistle-blower Babita Deokaran, she asked the Department’s Chief Financial Officer Lerato Madyo to respond within 24 hours as to whether Babita had ever submitted a report to her on these payments.

Madyo requested extra time to respond, and on 8 August she categorically denied that she had received such a report from Babita.

But Madyo later conceded that Babita had expressed anxiety about the Tembisa Hospital payments and they had agreed that her report should be confidential. She claimed that payments had been stopped.

These unsatisfactory responses by Madyo are further reason for her to be suspended while a forensic investigation is pursued into hundreds of Tembisa Hospital payments that total R850 million.

It is inexplicable, however, that the hospital’s CEO has not yet been asked to account for his role in this matter.

A Department report admits, “underestimated the currency of the matter” given the “relentlessness and rising public outrage.” See attached the Department’s report, here

We still do not have details of the investigation that Gauteng Premier David Makhura has promised, but there should be no more delays in suspending the CFO and the Tembisa Hospital CEO.

The DA will press for a speedy and thorough investigation with regular report-backs and criminal charges against implicated people.

Deafening silence of Gauteng Health Department on Tembisa Hospital payments scandal

The Democratic Alliance deplores the deafening silence of the Gauteng Health Department concerning the News24 investigation that has exposed how corruption whistle-blower Babita Deokaran tried to stop fishy payments by Tembisa Hospital shortly before she was murdered.

According to emails and WhatsApp messages that were disclosed by News24 last week, Deokaran alerted Chief Financial Officer Lerato Madyo to a flood of payments by Tembisa Hospital to fishy companies.

She tried to stop payments of more than R100 million, but the CFO allegedly overrode her objections and approved them.

Some of the payments were to three companies headed by a senior ANC member Mr Sello Sekhokho, who is currently Treasurer-General of the ANC’s Ekurhuleni region. He was paid millions of rands for what appear to be grossly overpriced medical supplies.

The latest revelation is that according to the then Acting Head of Department Sibongile Zungu, the CFO never asked her for an investigation of the Tembisa Hospital payments.

This was despite Madyo informing Deokaran that she had requested the HOD to approve an investigation.

It looks like Madyo had a central role in the cover-up of a massive scandal that may be linked to Deokaran’s murder.

You would have thought that after Deokaran’s death the CFO and the department would pay attention to what she had warned about, but it appears not.

And now we have a deafening silence from the department to the disclosures about the dubious Tembisa Hospital payments that total R850 million.

Surely the CFO should be immediately suspended and a forensic probe done urgently.

This is why the DA has launched a petition to force the Department to take this action – see petition at

It reminds me of the delayed reaction to the Life Esidimeni deaths when the then Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu was not fired immediately but allowed to stay in her job for more than four months until the Health Ombudsman’s devastating report.

Babita Deokaran died because she was trying to fix the department. We owe it to her memory to speedily investigate and hold accountable those who shamelessly steal money that is needed for a decent health service in this province.



Another fire at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital

I am horrified that there was another fire at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital last night.

From reports sent to me it appears to have been outside the main building but affected a parking lot.

Smoke can be seen in the parking lot under the hospital in videos that have been circulating.

The fire was fortunately put out by the fire services.

It is unbelievable that another fire could start at this hospital which spends R40 million a year on security.

A full investigation is needed, and sabotage should definitely be suspected.

And yet we still do not have a report on the devastating fire at the hospital in April last year that started in a store room. Many staff members think that this was deliberately done to cover up the evidence of corruption.

This is the fourth fire at a Gauteng public hospital this year.

There was a fire at temporary structures of the Steve Biko Hospital on 30 May this year, and there was a blaze in a linen closet in a medical ward there on 12 June.

Two weeks ago, a fire occurred at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital near the Covid-19 tents, and it spread to the laundry site before being put out.

In the last 7 years there have been 9 fires in Gauteng hospitals, as well as the unexplained fire at the Gauteng Health head office which burnt down the Bank of Lisbon building and killed three fire fighters.

We need answers from the Gauteng Health Department as to why there are so many fires and what is being done to prevent them.

The non-release of fire investigation reports looks more and more like a cover-up, and the DA will continue to press for them to be made public.

R6 billion unpaid Gauteng health accounts blamed on fire destroying records

The Gauteng Health Departments’ finances are suffering from late accounts that total R6 billion that need to be paid, with some dating back as far as 2017.

This was disclosed by the newly-appointed Head of Department Dr Nomonde Nolutshungu at a recent meeting of the Gauteng Legislature’s Health Committee.

She said that no proper records exist because of the fire at the department’s head office in the Bank of Lisbon building, which occurred in September 2018, and they were dependent on suppliers informing them what they were owed.

The ballooning accrued debts have to be paid from this year’s budget, which is already under severe strain, and patient care will suffer.

Nolutshungu said that R500 million would be set aside every month, of which 50% would be on current expenditure, 30% on accruals and 20% on medical-legal cases.

Nolutshungu stressed that there needed to be strict inventory management to control what was ordered, otherwise accruals would continue to rise.

I think it’s a poor excuse to blame the fire for the poor financial mismanagement that has afflicted this department for many years. Surely the records should have been kept at the various hospitals and on electronic backup?

The victims of all this incompetence are patients who don’t get good care because too much money has been wasted, misspent or stolen.

It’s better late than never, so I hope that Nolutshungu and the newly-appointed Chief Financial Officer (CFO) succeed in installing the proper controls that are needed to fix this ailing department.

Gauteng measles outbreak could hit 20% of young children not vaccinated

The Democratic Alliance is concerned that the four detected measles cases in Gauteng could lead to a wider outbreak amongst approximately 20% of young children who are not vaccinated.

The measles vaccine is supposed to be given to all children in doses given at six and nine months.

But figures from the Gauteng Health Department show that measles second dose vaccination rates have dropped in the last few years to about 80%. It used to be close to 100% but declined even before the disruption caused by the Covid-19 epidemic.

Measles is highly contagious and could lead to serious complications and even death in young child who are immunocompromised and malnourished.

According to the World Health Organisation, two or more cases in a single district are regarded as an outbreak. The reported cases so far are three in Tshwane, and one case in the West Rand.

The DA urges all parents to keep up to date with all child vaccines which are available free of charge at public clinics.

The Gauteng Health Department needs to take special measures to reverse the slippage in vaccine coverage for children.

Broken phones at 25 Gauteng hospitals

Anxious relatives have battled to get through to 25 public hospitals in Gauteng that have had switchboard problems this year, and some hospitals have had persistent phone problems for more than 10 years.

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

The Weskoppies hospital has been worst affected, with intermittent switchboard problems since 2006, and Sterkfontein Hospital has been affected by this since 2012.

Other hospitals have experienced the following phone problems:

Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital – intermittent problems since 2019
Tambo Memorial Hospital – intermittent problems for the past 5 years
Rahima Moosa Hospital – intermittent problems for the past 4 years
Pretoria West Hospital – intermittent problems for the past 4 years
South Rand Hospital – intermittently for the past 3 years

The Pholosong Hospital had no landline phones for 6 weeks this year, and the Bheki Mlangeni Hospital had broken phones for two whole weeks.

Helen Joseph Hospital was cut off for 6 days and Yusuf Dadoo Hospital for 5 days.

Other hospitals had phone problems for a few days or hours, or during loadshedding.

According to Mokgethi, most of the telephone problems are due to outdated or faulty PABX. She says that the affected hospitals reverted to mobile phones and communicated these numbers to patients’ relatives.

I have received many calls from people who tell me they cannot get through to hospitals to find out how their relatives are doing, or to get information for their own medical needs.

It is particularly hard when people are desperate for news about ailing family members, especially during periods when visits were restricted because of the Covid-19 epidemic.

Hospital staff are also frustrated when they can’t use landline phones and have to use their own cellphones, often at their own expense.

I am astounded that the Gauteng Health Department has not been able to do a simple thing like working switchboards at hospitals for so many years.

The department now says they are implementing a new telephone system this year, but it remains to be seen if they finally manage to get this right.

I will be following this matter up to ensure that there is reliable telephone communication at all Gauteng public hospitals.

Joburg pathology building delayed by more than three years

The budget for a new Pathology Services building for the Gauteng Health Department is R588 million but it is running more than three years behind schedule.

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

According to Mokgethi:

“The original plan was to refurbish and rehabilitate the existing facility that is situated in Hillbrow, but after assessment of the facility it was decided to rather build a new one, incorporate a head office for the Forensic Pathology services as well as basement parking for the existing nurses’s college at Helen Joseph Hospital.”

Construction of this building situated next to the Helen Joseph Hospital started on 3 November 2016 and was supposed to be completed on 3 November 2019.

It is now only 71% completed and is expected to be finished on 21 January 2023.

The delay is blamed on poor service by the professional team and change in designs during the construction stage, which has led to additional work and cost increases.

Meanwhile, pathologists continue to work at the decrepit Hillbrow mortuary instead of a new building that should have been completed two-and-a-half years ago.

This is yet another example of the notorious incompetence of the Gauteng Infrastructure Development Department (GDID) which hardly ever completes a project on schedule and within budget.

Corruption is also a factor as fishy contractors are often selected who are unable to finish the job and have to be replaced at extra expense.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is investigating many cases involving the GDID, including the R500 million Anglo Ashanti ghost hospital in the far west rand, and botched repairs to the fire-damaged Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital.

This is why the DA has called for the GDID to be shut down and replaced by a competent entity that can get the job done.

Premier David Makhura needs to take this decisive action otherwise Gauteng residents will continue to suffer from endless delays in vital building projects.

91 doctors and nurses not paid at Helen Joseph Hospital

The Gauteng Health Department has failed to pay April salaries to 91 doctors and nurses at the Helen Joseph Hospital despite the extra burden from Covid-19 cases and patients diverted from closed departments at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital.

According to a memo by hospital CEO Dr Relebohile Ncha, the non-payment is because there is a delay in the approval of 91 out of 177 Covid-19 contract posts for the 2022/23 financial year.

This is yet another example of incompetence that hurts hard-working medical staff who are trying to save lives in difficult circumstances.

Earlier this year interns at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital also endured late payment of salaries which was so bad that doctors donated to a fund to help them.

I have contacted Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi to speed up the payment to the 71 staff members.

But the real need is radical surgery to fix the deep-rooted problems at the Gauteng Health Department which lurches from crisis to crisis.

I look forward to interacting with Dr Nomonde Nolutshungu, the new Head of Department, to assist her in making the changes to ensure a decent public health service in Gauteng.


Generator fails during 6-day power failure at South Rand Hospital

Consternation reigned at the South Rand Hospital in south Johannesburg last month when there was a power outage for six days and the back-up generator did not fully function during this period.

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

According to Mokgethi, there was a power failure from 4 March to 10 March 2022, which was because “the HP panels between municipality and hospital were faulty, thus electricity from the municipality could not connect to the hospital.”

Mokgethi says that the generator did not operate for the full duration of the outage as it is aged and “it is speculated that prolonged utilisation results in it switching off.”

I am most concerned that faulty electricity panels led to such a long outage and that the generator did not continuously operate when required.

Both of these failures highlight the poor maintenance at this hospital over many years.

It is unacceptable that a hospital is plunged into darkness for so long without reliable back-up power.

Patients have suffered as surgery has been delayed and some patients had to be sent to other hospitals for emergency procedures.

The dysfunctional Gauteng Infrastructure Department is yet again to blame for badly maintaining hospitals.

The DA proposes that hospital CEOs be put in control of maintenance with an adequate budget to make up for years of neglect.