'You will have to drag me out,' DA shadow minister locked out of KZN oncology unit

2017-07-10 13:54
Patricia Kopane (File, Netwerk24)

Patricia Kopane (File, Netwerk24)

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Durban – An oversight visit meant to ascertain the current state of the KwaZulu-Natal health crisis turned ugly on Monday after a National Assembly member was escorted out of Addington Hospital in Durban.

DA Shadow Minister for Health Patricia Kopane and KZN MPL Imraan Keeka were prevented access to the oncology department at the hospital after indicating they would visit it in an oversight capacity.

Keeka said that he had, as a point of courtesy, contacted the department last Friday saying the DA would visit Addington Hospital and Chief Albert Luthuli Hospital.

Keeka told reporters that on Sunday evening, he received an email from the department revoking permission for the visit.

Upon entering the hospital, both Keeka and Kopane were escorted to offices of the hospital CEO Dr Mthetheleli Ndlangisa, who hurried to get instructions from senior officials.

After a lengthy wait, Ndlangisa said neither Kopane nor Keeka would be allowed to conduct the oversight visit.

“I am becoming a pawn now. I am under instruction to tell you, you will not be able to visit the oncology department. You will have to leave.”

After speaking to a number of senior officials, Kopane called MEC for Health Sibongiseni Dhlomo asking him why she would not be able to perform her duties.

Kopane said Dhlomo could not give her a legal precedent outlining why she was denied entry to the oncology department.

Both Keeka and Kopane then agreed to exit the hospital but said they would do so through the oncology department.

Ndlangisa said they would not be allowed to do so.

Keeka responded: “You will have to drag me out of here.”

The duo were then followed by security officials as they exited the hospital. Upon approaching the oncology department, Kopane and a security officer began a heated exchange.

“This is what we get paid for at the end of the month and we are told we cannot do our jobs? There is no law that states I can be stopped. You are denying the people of your province the basic rights they deserve.”

She continued: “Do you know that 300 people have died as a result of the department’s attitude and lack of action? You should not be stopping us.”

The security official however indicated that he was under instruction to not allow either Keeka or Kopane into that area of the hospital. After failing to convince Keeka and Kopane to leave the hospital, the official locked the entrance to the department.

Speaking to journalists outside the hospital, Kopane vowed to take the matter further.

“There is lack of leadership and governance. We are not going to rest that those implicated in the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) report are dealt with. I will make sure during those processes justice will be taken. The family of those who lost their members, there will be justice.”

She added: “When you are poor in this province the government doesn’t care about you.”

The KZN department of health currently does not have any oncologists in the province.

A damning report by the South African Human Rights Commission has found that the department failed its cancer patients.

The 68-page SAHRC report found that "the delays in the provision of‚ and in some cases the denial of‚ oncology services to cancer patients‚ some of whom are destitute and in need of health care‚ affects them in a most fundamental way”.

The report will be tabled in Parliament on Friday. 

Read more on:    da  |  sahrc  |  durban  |  politics  |  health

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