The Democratic Alliance (DA) is both shocked and disappointed by KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu’s response to reports of the alleged rape of a 12-year-old boy, by three psychiatric patients, at RK Khan Hospital earlier this week.
Instead of acknowledging that this horrific incident may indeed have taken place, and announcing remedial steps by her Department, the MEC has instead sought to deflect the issue. This is not the accountability that the people of KZN deserve.
Regardless of whether sodomy was involved, it would appear from the MEC’s quote that an incident of an apparent sexual nature occurred and that specimens were sent away for analysis. Whether the incident was in fact rape, attempted rape or sexual assault, the fact is that it happened in one of KZN’s hospitals under MEC Simelane-Zulu’s custodianship.
Despite this inadequate response, the DA does however welcome the announcement that the Department has provided counselling and support to the minor and his parent. We sincerely hope that this will alleviate some of their trauma.
RK Khan Hospital, along with many other provincial hospitals in KZN remains severely overcrowded with psychiatric and non-psychiatric patients placed in mixed wards due to a lack of beds. To add to this, many hospitals also continue to lack security within wards and at out-patient clinics, leaving both patients and staff at risk.
This shortcoming can be put down to a severe lack of financial management within the Department. In 2018/19, KZN’s Health Department took South Africa’s most unwanted ‘gold medal’ with the highest irregular expenditure within a provincial government department, at more than R4 billion. These are funds that should have been used to improve security conditions at all our facilities.
Instead of trying to deflect what is a very serious problem, the MEC should be taking proactive steps to ensure the safety of both patients and staff. The DA expects her to present a comprehensive security plan for hospital facilities at the next health portfolio committee meeting and to stop ducking and diving when it comes to her responsibilities.