Helenvale clinic closure a disgrace, urgent action needed

Issued by Bobby Stevenson, MPL
Shadow MEC for Safety and Security

The ongoing closure of the Helenvale Clinic, which is located a mere 200m away from the Gelvandale police station, needs to be resolved as a matter of urgency!

The clinic has been closed for over a year and a half due to the violent crime in the area. This has had a catastrophic knock on effect on the Malabar clinic, that has seen its case load double as Helenvale residents turn to them for help

We cannot afford to surrender any ground to gangsterism and the criminal element.

In response to a parliamentary question, Safety and Liaison MEC, Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe, said that at the time of the clinic’s closure, police had offered to make space available within the Gelvandale police station for the clinic staff to operate.

See IQP 15 Q 34

This never materialized, and the clinic was closed, depriving thousands of residents in the area of primary healthcare facilities, forcing them to travel to other neighbourhoods to get healthcare.

At a time like this, the residents of Helenvale urgently need a health facility in close proximity to where they live.

MEC Tikana-Gxothiwe must facilitate a meeting between the Department of Health and SAPS to revisit the offer for space within the station and to reinstate the Helenvale clinic.

One appreciates the clinics staff fear of being held at gunpoint and that they are understandably nervous about returning to their clinic. However, the offer by SAPS of a building on their premises, even if it is temporary, must be considered and become operational as soon as possible.

Police must also ensure that the building on the station ground, to be considered for the clinic premises, is properly secured to facilitate the return of clinic staff.

The closure of the clinic is also a sad indictment on the failure of SAPS to eradicate gangsterism in the Northern Areas of Port Elizabeth. It is a travesty that clinic staff and patients could be targeted by gangsters, within a stone’s throw of the police station.

The department of community safety, which is responsible for coordinating the multi-disciplinary anti-gang strategy in the Northern Areas, must urgently develop a programme of action, so that the residents of the Northern Areas can live a life of value.

What is needed now is action, not more excuses to delay the problem any further.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality has also failed to institute CCTV cameras in the surrounding area that could help identify potential suspects and ensure their arrests.

We need to make better use of technology, particularly CCTV systems and use it as a mechanism to fight crime and secure convictions against perpetrators.

The Democratic Alliance will fight for an efficient police force, the use of technology and the arrests of criminals so that the people of this province can live a life of value and feel safe.