Picture: Engin Akyurt/Pexels
Picture: Engin Akyurt/Pexels

Nehawu and DA condemn dumping of PPEs in a river and want action

By Baldwin Ndaba Time of article published Aug 3, 2020

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Johannesburg - Nehawu and the DA in Gauteng have expressed their outrage after personal protective equipment (PPE) was found dumped in a river in Irene, Centurion.

Adding more to the union’s anger was the circulation of the video on social media depicting how these PPEs were dumped in the river.

Nehawu general secretary Zola Saphetha said his union finds it unacceptable that PPEs – which are needed by frontline workers to protect themselves and to save lives – were dumped in a river.

“In the video one can see gloves and masks which are in short supply in healthcare facilities across the country. Some of our members and workers have had to resort to using scarves as masks and refuse bags as aprons because of the intermittent supplies of PPEs in their workplaces,” Saphetha said.

He said the narration in the video suggested the PPEs were thrown in the river by a Covidpreneur who produced a shoddy quality of PPEs hence they had to be disposed of in that horrible manner.

“The national union has been at the forefront of highlighting the need to pay extra attention in the procurement process of PPEs including decentralising the process.

“We have constantly called on the government to abandon the current decentralised and fragmented approach in the procurement of PPEs, as determined by the guidelines on the management of the coronavirus (Covid-19) in the Public Service issued by the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA),” Saphetha said.

He added there has been an upsurge in the number of tenderpreneurs who produced PPEs and who were benefiting from the outbreak of the virus while producing low quality work including sanitisers that did not contain the recommended minimum of 70% alcohol.

Saphetha maintained their members and workers had been complaining of poor quality PPEs which increased the danger of them contracting the virus.

“Government has the role to play in ensuring that frontline workers have sufficient PPEs and that they are of good quality. In this regard, we call on the government and the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) to pay extra attention on the quality of PPEs given to frontline workers and to prosecute those found to be benefiting from supplying low quality work which can result in a serious health threat during this pandemic."

He pointed out his union would continue to prepare for its national day of action scheduled for September 3 if the issues were not resolved quickly by the government.

Meanwhile, the DA has urged the Acting Gauteng Health MEC, Jacob Mamabolo, to investigate the discarding of medical gloves at the Hennops River, where it meanders through the Irene Golf Course in Centurion.

More than 11 black bags filled with well over a thousand unopened boxes of single-use hospital medical gloves were dumped in the river between late Saturday night and early Sunday morning.

City of Tshwane councillor, Bronwynn Engelbrecht, said any legitimate supplier would not destroy several thousands of rands worth of stock in such a bizarre manner.

Engelbrecht said her party is of the view that someone was trying to get rid of evidence in a hurry.

According to the information on the boxes, the gloves came from three different companies, namely Promed Technologies, Medtex and Nitrile.

“The DA calls on MEC Mamabolo to urgently investigate if any purchase orders or other relevant documentation exist linking the three identified suppliers and their products, to get to the bottom of this bizarre incident of medical dumping.

“It should perhaps be noted that the Gauteng health department has been under the spotlight in recent weeks after it issued more than 167 personal protective equipment tenders worth R2.2 billion to political allies,” Engelbrecht said.

MEC Bandile Masuku was subsequently placed on special leave.

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