Hospital’s futile bid to stop run

2013-07-10 00:00

WITNESS at the RTI recruitment commission of inquiry yesterday told of how her attempts to stop the fitness training exercise fell on deaf ears on December 28.

Former ANCYL NEC member, Msunduzi Municipality councillor and the board chairperson of Northdale Hospital, Rachel Soobiah, testified at the commission yesterday.

“I normally visit the hospital twice a week and I do regular visits, especially on Fridays, to see if the hospital is prepared for the weekend,” said Soobiah.

So on December 28, Soobiah paid a visit to Northdale Hospital and walked around various departments.

“I then visited the casualty and it was packed, and there was not even space to walk around, which was unusual because it was too early for that section of the hospital to be so busy,” she said.

Soobiah told the commission that Dr Llewellyn Patrick Kenny informed her that the patients packed into casualty were dehydrated after having participated in an event at Harry Gwala Stadium.

“Dr Kenny was on the phone trying to get hold of Sindi Zwane to get her to stop the fitness test, because the hospital was not coping, but he could not reach her,” she said.

Soobiah said Kenny gave her Zwane’s number and she then tried to call her, but could not reach her either.

“I then suggested to the hospital CEO that we should go to the stadium so that we could see what was going on there, and to also try to find Zwane,” she said.

At the stadium, Soobiah approached a man who was said to be in charge.

“I told him they should stop the event, but he told me: ‘I didn’t ask these applicants to apply for a job and I’m doing my job,’ ” she said. She said the man was arrogant and had shouted at her.

Soobiah said they finally spoke to Zwane, but she told them that she did not have time for meetings. “I then tried to call Transport Department MEC Willies Mchunu but could not reach him, and then we decided to go into the paramedic tent,” she said.

She said it was a sorry sight, “seeing human beings looking like zombies and being unable to recognise who they were. We saw a woman who was crying non-stop and rolling on the floor,” said Soobiah.

“If the Transport Department had initially involved the Health Department in the event planning maybe fatalities could have been avoided,” she said.

Soobiah will be cross-examined today.

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