R6m Covid-19 facility in KZN town torched by angry community
Durban - A FEW people from the Matikulu community, near Eshowe, who were unhappy with the conversion of the Catherine Booth Hospital into a Covid-19 facility, were allegedly behind torching a portion of the hospital and attacking security personnel early Thursday morning.
Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu visited the hospital and condemned the action.
She said although it was not yet clear what the issues were, it might be linked to an incident a week ago in which some locals complained about the centre being used for Covid-19 treatment.
“Nowhere in the country nor the world are community members consulted before a health facility is utilised for Covid-19. We do not need the community’s permission to use a health-care facility as we deem fit.”
The fully furnished centre with computers, patient files, and offices for an occupational safety nurse, personnel infection prevention and control officials, and a public relations officer, was caught in the blaze.
Simelane-Zulu warned that her department would not tolerate being stopped from using its facilities to save people’s lives.
“That is anarchy, and we will not stand aside and watch. Right now, the province and the country needs beds for Covid-19,” she said. It is alleged that shots were fired early yesterday and the security guards on duty were attacked, leaving one injured in the face.
“We are in crisis. This is a pandemic all of us are faced with. The department has the responsibility to ensure it provides all the beds it needs so those who are Covid-19-positive get the assistance they need.
“We are going to continue to use this hospital for Covid-19 as and when it is necessary. So, if the community does not allow us to do that, it means they do not need this hospital.
“We might then need to go back to the premier and request that this facility be closed down, because we are not going to have a facility that will be a white elephant and not be utilised,” said Simelane-Zulu.
The Catherine Booth Hospital has 127 beds and currently has 39 patients.
Three are in isolation and on treatment for Covid-19, while another two are in quarantine awaiting results.