“Mpumalanga public health facilities are worse than prison”

Issued by Jane Sithole, MPL – DA Spokesperson on Health: Mpumalanga Province
13 May 2024 in Press Releases

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Mpumalanga has written to the South African Human Rights Commissioner (SAHRC) requesting an investigation on alleged gross negligence by the Provincial Health Department after several patients complained about poor services, lack of medication and ill-treatment.

A patient who recently spent two weeks in Rob Ferreira Hospital in Mbombela told the DA horror stories about his experiences in that hospital. He made the following damning allegations: 

  • Lifts were broken in the hospital for three full days and patients who were in wards on the upper floors were not getting food for those days. 
  • The hospital does not have medication and they were only given painkillers. He also mentioned that he had to buy his own medication. 
  • The wards and the hospital are dirty, and some patients were forced to share hospital clothing and linen. 
  • Dirty ablution facilities with leaking water everywhere. 
  • Overcrowded wards and poor food supply. 

The patient went as far as saying that “Prisoners are getting better treatment than patients at Mpumalanga public health facilities. I believe that Mpumalanga public health facilities are worse than prison”.

Another hospital in Mpumalanga that has been in the spotlight recently for wrong reasons is Witbank Hospital at the eMalahleni Local Municipality. There are media reports that a disabled woman was not allowed to use disabled toilets in this infamous hospital. It was reported that nursing/medical staff in the hospital have taken over disabled toilet facilities for their own use – while disabled patients are forced to use ordinary toilets that are not suitable for them, especially patients in wheelchairs like the disabled woman who made this complaint. It is also alleged that the disabled toilets in the hospital have a sign on it saying, “STAFF ONLY”.

In another incident at the Witbank Hospital recently, an intellectually disabled man was allegedly left sleeping on the cold floor when he presented at the hospital for treatment as reported by local media.

The alleged mistreatment and possible abusive behaviour towards disabled patients are completely unacceptable and requires further investigation.

According to the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act – in terms of facilities for disabled people or persons are that: People with disabilities should be able to safely enter buildings and be able to safely use all the facilities within it, specifically toilets.

We believe that it should be made standard and a requirement that all public spaces must have disabled friendly facilities, especially hospitals and schools.

We also call on Mpumalanga MEC for Health, Sasekani Manzini, to do her own investigation into the allegations of mistreatment of disabled patients in hospitals. The MEC must also address the allegations of lack of medication, dilapidated infrastructure and poor service in general at all health facilities across the province.