Department of Health intervenes in Prince Mshiyeni Hospital water crisis

Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital has been without water for days. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency (ANA)

Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital has been without water for days. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Feb 8, 2023


The Department of Health in KwaZulu-Natal is set to roll out plans to tackle a massive water outage affecting one of the province's biggest government-funded hospitals. According to the provincial health department, as at Tuesday, 898 patients were admitted at Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital.

The hospital is still able to manage booked outpatients attending its outpatient clinics, along with 55 orthopaedic patients currently admitted.

Earlier in the week, it was reported that Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital, in uMlazi, south of the Durban, had been hit by a water outage caused by a burst 300mm diameter water pipe on the South Coast Bridge over the Umlaas Canal.

Despite eThekwini Municipality confirming that there were teams on the ground tracing and uncovering the damaged section of the pipe, opposition parties have placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of the city's leadership for delays in the maintenance of infrastructure.

DA councillor Andre Beetge said the ANC-led municipality had failed to send water tankers to the hospital at the weekend.

“It was the DA’s intervention that led to water tankers being expeditiously deployed to the hospital on Monday morning,” he said.

The IFP's Mdu Nkosi said the ANC and eThekwini Municipality must shoulder responsibility for the lives lost and those affected by the water cuts.

“It is shameful that eThekwini is caught lacking in service delivery despite the billions it oversees. Even more repugnant is the incompetence of the ANC government to deal decisively with the electricity crisis that has ruined South Africa for years and contributes to water disruptions,” he said.

KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane said bottled drinking water for patients and staff was being supplied.

She said 30 Jojo tanks were being installed at the hospital, as was done after the April floods.

“A water tanker from the eThekwini Municipality is stationed full time in the hospital.

“More tankers have been requested from the municipality and the indication is that supply chain processes are being finalised in order to secure the provision of more water,” the MEC said.

She the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs had offered to allocate two water tankers to help refill the hospital’s main water reservoir.

“Water tankers with drivers from the various districts throughout the province are also being mobilised to eThekwini district, so that they can assist with filling of the water reservoir in PMMH. Thirty mobile toilets have been hired and are being used to support sanitation services,” Simelane said.

“Patients who require orthopaedic care are being shared between RK Khan and Addington hospitals, as additional theatre spaces have been provided in both these hospitals. PMMH has continued to manage emergency surgical and maternity cases.”

She said air conditioning units were being installed in four theatres – two emergency obstetrics and gynaecological theatres and two other emergency theatres. This will be completed by this evening,

According to the MEC, the sterilisation of instruments was being done at King Edward VIII and Clairwood hospitals. Laundry and catering services were outsourced so no challenges were anticipated, with the exception that the menu had to be adjusted slightly.

Simelane said hospital management was in contact with organised labour and staff to provide updates on these and other interventions.