DA fails to lay charges against health minister, MEC

The DA at the Point Point Police Station. (Kaveel Singh, News24)
The DA at the Point Point Police Station. (Kaveel Singh, News24)

Durban – The Democratic Alliance failed to lay charges of culpable homicide against provincial and national health department heads at the Point Police Station in Durban, after alleged legal complications.

Instead, DA health spokesperson Patricia Kopane and KwaZulu-Natal MPL Imraan Keeka had to meet high level police officials at a separate venue, where an enquiry was opened into matters related to the province's health crisis.

The DA had hoped to lay charges of culpable homicide against both Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo.

The KwaZulu-Natal health department currently does not have any oncologists in the province. A damning report by the SA Human Rights Commission found that the department had failed its cancer patients.

The DA believes that the two men should be first in line to answer for the crisis that the SAHRC report said had cost more than 300 lives.

Kopane and Keeka were told they could not open the case at the police station because of complex legalities surrounding the SAHRC report.

"We were referred to the legal head of the police and [had to] leave the police station to go into discussions with that official," Kopane said outside police station.

The two were at the police station from 11:00 until 13:00 on Wednesday, as highly ranked provincial police descended on the station to address the opening of the case.

'There is no crime committed for now'

The DA officials had to go to a different venue and meet with the head of provincial detectives, "because of the magnitude of the case".

"Tomorrow they will appoint an investigating officer. It has been elevated to cluster level," Keeka said.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Thembeka Mbhele confirmed that only an enquiry into the matter had been opened.

"An enquiry has been opened to investigate their allegations. There is no crime committed for now. There is no culpable homicide case. We are looking into it."

Keeka said the police were trying to prevent the DA from following due process.

"The SAPS have attempted to frustrate us from laying charges against the minister and MEC. They acted in a manner did not allow us to lay those charges. We however accepted the enquiry."

Keeka said that the oncology crisis, according to the SAHRC report, had resulted in the deaths of at least 300 patients.

"Our basis to open our case is in the report. The report provides in great depth, what happened to these patients. It is not our job to investigate. Now we [had to] speak to their legal services. Why is this so complex? Why could we not open a case?"

'We are in a crisis and need decisive leadership'

Keeka said that Dhlomo had to be removed from his position as MEC. Kopane said he should "be ashamed" to still be in his post at the head of health in the province.

"The reason we are pointing out these two is because, under their watch, hundreds have died. We have included the minister because he has sat back and allowed all this to happen as well. We are in a crisis and need decisive leadership."

Kopane and Keeka were previously prevented access to the oncology department at the Addington Hospital after indicating they would visit it in an oversight capacity.

At the time, they had hoped to inspect the oncology unit. They were, however, physically prevented from doing so by security.

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

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