‘Gangs hold our health hostage’

2015-06-02 06:00

Gang violence in Manenberg has disrupted services at the local clinic and at the recently launched substance abuse treatment site. City staff there have been forced to work under extremely volatile conditions.

Siyabulela Mamkeli, mayoral committee member for health, says the City of Cape Town’s health directorate has noticed a marked impact on its ability to provide services in Manenberg in recent weeks as a result of ongoing gang violence.

Fear for safetyStaff have reported a drop in group attendance and the assessment numbers at the new substance abuse treatment site. Feedback received from clients is that they are unable to come to their appointments as they fear for their safety. This has affected the continuity of the programme as well as clients’ treatment progress.

Some new clients, when enquiring about the service, have also expressed concerns about their safety.

“The gangs are effectively holding us hostage. It is very difficult to provide healthcare under these circumstances and I would appeal to those involved in the conflict to bear in mind that they are effectively denying their neighbours and more than likely their own families the opportunity of a better quality of life. I appeal to the police to step up their patrols around our facilities in a bid to ensure safe passage for our clients as well as our staff,” he says.

Mamkeli says he will continue to engage with the City’s law enforcement agencies about their assistance. He asks residents to help by reporting criminal and gang activity.

Inadequate staffHe added that the City health department has received several requests for staff transfers to other sites. This could potentially result in the clinic being left without adequate staff. Stock deliveries to the facilities are also affected, as well as transport routes to and from the clinic for service providers, staff and clients.

“Manenberg Clinic as well as the substance abuse treatment site have had to be closed early every time there is an eruption of violence, because we cannot compromise the safety of our staff and clients. Every time we are forced to close our doors, we are denying the community access to critical health services.

Failing targets“All of the planned outreach programmes, including tracking defaulting patients for various programmes, have been cancelled due to the violence. Statistics indicate that the clinic is failing to meet its targets on HIV testing, cervical cancer screening and immunisations because clients are simply not willing to risk their safety to visit the clinic. The situation is also impacting on oversight visits by management and other support services,” adds Mamkeli

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