South Africa: Protesters Call for New Hospital in Gugulethu

The old hospital can’t cope says Movement for Change and Social Justice

More than 100 residents from several townships in Cape Town marched to the Western Cape legislature on Tuesday to demand a new hospital in Gugulethu.

The march was organised by the Movement for Change and Social Justice (MCSJ), an alliance of organisations concerned with health, safety and social services issues in and around Gugulethu.

The organisation says the Gugulethu Community Health Care Centre was built in 1965 to cater for 27,000 people, and cannot meet the needs of the numbers of people who live in the area today.

The protesters complained of delays in attending to patients, untidiness, patients being turned away without medication, no parking space, crumbling infrastructure, and poor behaviour from staff. They said the clinic is not friendly to people with disabilities, especially those who use wheelchairs.

The marchers told GroundUp they had tried numerous times to talk to the management of the centre and had even protested outside and handed in a memorandum of grievances, but there had been no response.

MCSJ member Mandla Majola said the marchers wanted a new hospital to be built by 2026. He said the population of the area had grown significantly, with new settlements including New Crossroads, Philippi, Lusaka, Lotus and informal settlements of Barcelona, Europe and Kanana.

“Unfortunately, the clinic is seriously understaffed. As a result, the waiting time for patients is too long,” said Majola.

He said the trauma unit was small and at weekends staff could not cope with gunshot and stabbing emergencies. “There are bed shortages and that results in some patients sleeping on the floor or on chairs,” said Majola.

Nokwakha Siyolo, from Philippi East, who uses crutches to walk, said there had been no improvements to the centre despite demands.

“If I go for an appointment at 8am, it is obvious I will come back home in the late afternoon , if I get help on the day. All we want is for the health department to intervene,” said Siyolo.

Pamela Dyantyi said every time she visits she has to queue outside, whatever the weather. “The community has endured poor service for too long,” said Dyantyi.

Western Cape MEC for Health Nomafrench Mbombo was not available to accept the memorandum directed to her, but a representative collected it. Mbombo was given 14 days to respond.

Questions sent by GroundUp to the MEC’s office had not been answered at the time of publication.