The shocking Komani Psychiatric Hospital incident is a siren call for a total overhaul of how the health department is managed in the Eastern Cape. Top management is clearly out of touch and this issue goes deeper than simply suspending officials at the Komani Hospital. Why does it take the media and the portfolio committee on health to get action? Why are department officials trying to pull the wool over the eyes of their MEC?

When the MEC of Health, Sicelo Gqobana, admitted that the way the management of Komani Psychiatric Hospital is treating its patients is a human rights violation, it illustrates the depths to which health services have sunk in this province.

I will be writing to the Human Rights Commission to request a full investigation as this matter goes deeper than simply officials at this hospital not doing their job. It points to a complete breakdown in the chain of command. I will be visiting the hospital this weekend to make an assessment that is unjaded by departmental and ANC line towage, and will be submitting questions to the MEC accordingly.

It has become clear that the MEC himself has become the interventionist arm of the department, which only further proves that officials across the board in the department are not doing their jobs properly. The MEC cannot rely on any information given to him by the department. He needs to realise this and clean house accordingly.

The fact that a delegation sent out by the department accepted a failed management’s word that “all is well” just proves that they have no interest in correcting the injustices and may just be hiding their own incompetence. Nothing more than lip service! The head of that delegation should answer to this.

People sleeping on a cold hospital floor, especially during a cold winter such as this seems to be the tip of the iceberg in the disregard the department has for the infirm and frail of the community in general. Society is judged by how we treat those that cannot care for themselves and this is just another reminder of how little departmental management cares, as long as their own tummies are filled with more than the watered down soup at Komani and their branded clothes cover them better than the rags issued to the “lucky” patients that get any at all.

The only absolution to this a travesty is a complete overhaul as to how Health is managed in this province, starting from the top, down.



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