‘We are suffering’: Gauteng’s Finetown clinic remains shuttered three years after being built
Residents and community activists in the underdeveloped township of Finetown in Ennerdale are complaining that they have no access to schools, sanitation or electricity, and that the railway station is vandalised and dilapidated. They are particularly distraught over the inaccessibility of health services.
In 2020, the Department of Infrastructure Development (DID) and the Gauteng Department of Health (GDoH) completed the construction of Finetown clinic. It has never been opened. Residents have to travel to other suburbs for medical services.
Beauty Moletsane, a 68-year-old activist and part of the Finetown clinic steering committee, told Maverick Citizen that Finetown initially had a mobile clinic that served the community, but it burnt down. Construction of a new clinic began in 2017, then stopped the following year due to a change in contractors, and was eventually completed in 2020. Since then, it has remained shut.
“How long are we supposed to wait for the clinic to be opened? We have many old people like myself who need clinic services but now I have to wake up at 4am to go and queue at the clinic in Ennerdale.”
According to Moletsane, the Finetown clinic steering committee met the GDoH on 24 March and was told the facility would open on 27 March. They were told to invite the community to be present at the opening.
“We even had five people who needed medical care arrive at the clinic on the 27th… it never opened.”
Pensioner David Polisi, frail and unwell, broke down in tears while telling Maverick Citizen that he was one of the founders of Finetown and that he had fought long and hard for his community to get RDP houses.
“All I’ve ever wanted was for my children and community to have the same access to services that neighbouring communities like Ennerdale do. Our children should have places to play… we have nothing. We may as well be living on a farm. We are like sheep.
“We settled here because we had nowhere else to go and we thought our government would care for us. The desperate way we live here makes me feel that we will even turn on each other and kill each other. We are living in pain,” said Polisi.
‘Where must we go for help, and from who?’
“An old man like this, how can he go to another clinic and get his treatment when he is like this and is not working? Where must we go and ask for help, and from who?” asked Moletsane, adding that the only time the community sees government officials is when they need votes.
A few streets away lives Nomasonto Nkosi, whose son Unenathi is on a medical disability grant: “All the grant money goes towards transportation costs for his physiotherapy, speech therapy, pulmonary clinic and epilepsy clinic appointments. He also has a very specific diet that requires him to eat fresh and healthy food, but it’s difficult to find.
“He needs an oxygen cylinder to breathe and when I get into taxis to take him to his medical visits, I struggle with the cylinder and I must also pay for an extra seat in the taxi to accommodate his wheelchair, as well as the person who helps me carry the cylinder. At times when he gets epileptic fits at night, I need to find someone who has a car to take us to the clinic, which is another expense,” Nkosi said.
“We have had many meetings with the DID and GDoH where they have promised that the clinic will open. On 24 March they told us that they had received the go-ahead from the premier’s office to open the clinic,” Ayanda Buthelezi told Maverick Citizen.
“The fact that the clinic is built and standing there is a great frustration to our community because they pass it every day, but can’t use it.”
She said people had to resort to going to hospitals and clinics like Ennerdale or even Baragwanath, and even then they were not guaranteed assistance. Some had been told that they cannot get services because Finetown has its own clinic.
“A return trip by taxi to South hospital is R30 and to Bara it’s R40… people have to wait in long queues and sometimes by the time you finally see the doctor, the pharmacy is already closed, which means having to find taxi fare, wake up early and go to queue again the next day,” said community activist Nonkosi Maliti. She also shared a letter that her organisation, Action for Accountability, had sent to Gauteng’s MEC for Health, but had received no response.
Maverick Citizen also received no response to repeated requests for comment from the DID and GDoH. DM/MC