Maverick Citizen

UNFOLDING CRISIS

Cholera toll in SA rises amid calls for swift action and less finger-pointing

Cholera toll in SA rises amid calls for swift action and less finger-pointing
Nurse Florence Kgwarere talks to Amos Mmakou, a cholera patient recovering at Jubilee District Hospital in Hammanskraal. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

The death toll from an outbreak of cholera in Gauteng has risen to 21, with another death being recorded in the Free State. The question now being asked is how does the government plan to contain the Hammanskraal outbreak if the source is unknown?

Government officials on Thursday visited Jubilee District Hospital in Hammanskraal to monitor the effectiveness of current interventions to curb the spread of cholera and save lives.

The visit came after more deaths were recorded in Hammanskraal. There are now more than 170 people at the hospital with symptoms of the disease.

The government has established a command centre to combat the outbreak in collaboration with the City of Tshwane and the departments of health, water and sanitation, social development and others.

The source of the outbreak remains unknown. Tshwane mayor Cilliers Brink recently blamed it on what he described as a “network of corruption”.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Tshwane mayor points finger at ‘network of corruption’ as cholera death toll rises to 17

Daily Maverick spoke to representatives from the Hammanskraal Residents  Forum and the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC):

“As the Hammanskraal Residents Forum, we are saddened by the cholera outbreak because lives have been lost and scores of people are receiving medical attention as a result,” said Tumelo Koitheng.

“In 2015 we warned the City of Tshwane and the Gauteng department of water and sanitation, as well as the parliamentary portfolio committee on human settlements, water and sanitation, that a disaster is waiting to happen. Now that it has happened, we are not being engaged. 

“We wish the government would consult more with active community structures.”

Bobby Mohanoe, the TAC’s Gauteng provincial secretary, said: “It is unfortunate and disappointing that the government only takes issues seriously when there is death and an outbreak of this nature.

“The water issue of Hammanskraal is a matter known for more than two decades, under the government of ANC and now the DA-led coalition.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: Killer cholera hits amid decade-long bickering over Hammanskraal water crisis – and tender scandals

“While we welcome the good response of the department of health led by MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, we are disappointed that there hasn’t been more involvement by civil society on this matter… the involvement of civil society will assist meaningfully in ensuring that society is educated and further involved in preventing the spread,” said Mohanoe.

“The lack of civil society involvement raises alarms that there might not be proper transparency on developments, which might lead to misinformation and looting. We call on the government to ensure proper inclusivity in briefings, education and outreach.”

Mohanoe called on the Tshwane council to immediately make drinking water available to the affected areas, including schools, ECD centres and the community at large.

“We trust more will be done to ensure there is a track-and-trace of contacts of families of those infected to curb the spread. The government must stop finger-pointing and politicking as the crisis demands immediate intervention.” DM

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