News / South Africa

Makhosandile Zulu
4 minute read
20 Apr 2018
11:25 am

Ramaphosa expected to address protests in Mahikeng

Makhosandile Zulu

The ANC North West spokesperson called for calm so that the situation could return to normal.

Former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, accompanied by ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and his deputy Jessie Duarte, is expected to visit North West today to attend an urgent meeting between the party’s structures and its alliance partners.

The meeting was convened to address the ongoing protests in the province’s capital, Mahikeng, where residents are calling for Premier Supra Mahumapelo to step down.

The protests broke out on Wednesday and have continued to date with protesters blockading roads with burning tyres, burning vehicles and looting businesses.

One resident who spoke to the SABC this morning said another issue that protesters have has to do with the ongoing National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) strike in the province.

In a statement issued last month, the union says it embarked on protest action to highlight the crisis in the provincial department of health and the high levels of corruption.

Nehawu calls for, among other demands, the Hawks and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to broaden its probe and prosecution of those implicated in the Gupta state capture allegations in the province, including the health head of department in the province, Dr Thabo Lekalakala – who Mahumapelo suspended yesterday, the premier and the MEC for health, Dr Magome Masike.

ALSO READ: ANC North West welcomes suspension of health boss

“This includes all those involved in the illegal facilitation of the Gupta front of the Mediosa screening services and the siphoning off money to Dubai and those involved in the reported corruption in the purchase of unused ambulances and the outsourcing of this critical health service to the Buthelezi E.M.S. and High Care and the unilateral replacement of supply chain workforce to a private company,” the statement reads.

Other demands made by the union include an end to gross mismanagement and neglect of the Bophelong Provincial Hospital and Gelukspan Hospital.

Provincial department of health spokesperson Tebogo Lekgethwane told the SABC that the closure of clinics in and around the province’s capital had led to overcrowding at Mahikeng Hospital.

He said the department instructed doctors at the hospital to assess all the patients so that those who were stable could be discharged to create room for those who were in a critical condition.

With the ongoing chaos and blocked roads, Lekgethwane said delivering medication to the hospital and dispatching to the clinic had been difficult.

“The department has interacted with national to request that we have direct deliveries. I can confirm […] that some of our clinics have already been given the go-ahead to contact suppliers directly so that they source medication directly from the suppliers; this is happening across the province,” he said.

He added that the department had also held discussions with the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) services to intervene and assist in the province.

A resident who spoke to the news network said striking community members also had issues with the Bophelong Hospital where patients were allegedly being discharged while still sick.

The spokesperson of the ANC in the province, Gerald Modise, said the leadership of the party in the province had been engaging with the MEC for health and other MECs to address residents’ concerns.

“We want to urge and plead with our communities to calm down so that the situation can return to normal and for the leadership of the ANC to address their issues.

“We are very much concerned about the situation in our health facilities, clinics and Mahikeng provincial hospital and yesterday when we checked with the MEC he indicated that they had spoken to the minister of health, Ntate Motsoaledi, so that they are deploying health professionals from the South African Defence Force to come and assist in this particular regard,” Modise said in an SABC interview.

Responding to allegations of corruption in the purchase of unused ambulances and the outsourcing of this critical health service to the Buthelezi E.M.S. and High Care, Modise said the MEC for health had informed the party that all due processes had been followed.

He urged those with proof of corruption to contact law enforcement agencies so that guilty parties could face the law.

He said the ANC was working on finding a solution to the protests.

ALSO READ: Mahikeng protests a purge of Cyril’s opponents – Supra

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