No consequences for delinquent Health Department staff

Issued by Jane Cowley, MPL
Shadow MEC for Health

Almost four years ago, a young mother lost her unborn baby in the street due to gross negligence on the part of two Emergency Medical Services employees, but to this day, they have never faced a disciplinary hearing.

This, despite the Department stating in response to a Parliamentary Question in July last year that the employees were formally charged and the disciplinary process would resume as lockdown restrictions had eased.

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Four years ago, a senior female official reported a case of sexual harassment committed by another senior official. Instead of the then Head of Department implementing disciplinary proceedings, the matter was swept under the carpet, and senior managers, including women, set about trying to defame the victim and work her out of the system.

To this day, the Department has obfuscated, ducked, and dived to frustrate any disciplinary proceedings from being instituted against the alleged sex fiend. Other victims of sexual harassment in the Department are now hesitant to report their cases lest they be treated the same way.

What do these two cases have in common? The perpetrators are political deployees with friends in high places. In a recent Health portfolio committee meeting, the current Head of Department bemoaned the fact that they do not have trained presiding officers to deal with these disciplinary matters.

Nonsense! There are many structures in the private domain that would provide qualified experts to preside over such matters. The ugly truth is that the Department would far rather protect some of the perpetrators because they are connected cronies.

I will set follow up Parliamentary Questions to the MEC for Health, Hon Nomakosazana Meth, to request a detailed and time-bound plan of action to proceed with disciplinary hearings for both of these cases.

The Provincial Government must stop paying lip service to ending the continued abuse of women in our province, whether through gross negligence, sexual harassment or any other form of abuse. They need to act swiftly, without fear or favour, to hold perpetrators to account, particularly those within their ranks.