Cape Town - Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has accused Build One South Africa (Bosa) leader Mmusi Maimane of attempting to “capitalise on the suffering of citizens for political mileage”.
Maimane lodged a criminal complaint against Gordhan at the Cape Town police station on Monday, following the death of a 3-year-old asthmatic allegedly linked to load shedding, as her oxygen-driven nebuliser stopped running due to power cuts.
Police spokesperson Wesley Twigg confirmed a culpable homicide case was reported.
The child is reportedly from Bromhof, Johannesburg.
“Because of load shedding, the hospital did not have enough electricity to keep the oxygen running, which resulted in the tragedy,” according to Bosa spokesperson Sbu Zondi.
Maimane added: “I’m laying culpable homicide charges against this ANC government. Every life lost due to electricity outages is on their hands.
“They are responsible for the negligence which led to the failures to provide power and power alternatives to police stations, hospitals, schools and citizens whose lives depend on uninterrupted power supply.
“The young girl’s nebuliser stopped functioning and ran out of power, which led to her untimely passing.
What we are witnessing is a gross violation of human rights by this ANC government. Electricity supply – particularly to hospitals – is a life and death matter.”
Earlier this month, the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria gave Gordhan 60 days to ensure uninterrupted electricity supply to all government hospitals, clinics, schools and police stations following an application by the UDM,
Action SA, Bosa and other political and civic organisations. However, Gordhan went back to the courts to take the matter up on appeal.
Today we opened a case of culpable homicide against the minister of public enterprises Pravin Gordhan and the minister of electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa for the death of a 3 year old child due to load shedding. pic.twitter.com/8VBivfSiQB— Mmusi Maimane (@MmusiMaimane) May 29, 2023
The Department of Public Enterprises on Monday said that its decision to appeal against the recent ruling was about “ensuring that current and ongoing efforts to stabilise the national grid were not compromised due to the ongoing need to balance supply and demand for electricity”.
The department added that it had already initiated efforts with the Department of Health and Eskom to identify 213 hospitals for exclusion from load shedding to ensure continuous power supply. Out of these hospitals, 76 were already excluded, while work to exempt a further 46 was under way.
Gordhan said: “The DPE initiated the work to segregate these hospitals, working with the Department of Health.
As a government we are continuously working to determine what other facilities can be isolated from the integrated grid. In certain instances it is not possible. The load shedding that is affecting families, schools, health care and business facilities is regrettable.
This is not wilful, and it is not in the absence of continued and determined efforts to mitigate the negative impacts of load shedding.”
Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa did not respond to requests for comment by deadline on Monday.