Unveiling Edendale Hospital’s new name, Harry Gwala Regional Hospital, KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane announced plans to build a state-of-the-art maternity complex at the facility. Picture: Supplied
Unveiling Edendale Hospital’s new name, Harry Gwala Regional Hospital, KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane announced plans to build a state-of-the-art maternity complex at the facility. Picture: Supplied

PMB’s Edendale Hospital renamed after Struggle icon Harry Gwala, R75m maternity complex planned

By Lee Lawler Time of article published Oct 21, 2021

Share this article:

Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health has renamed the Edendale Hospital in Pietermaritzburg after Struggle icon Harry Gwala.

The 900-bed hospital that has been in existence for 67 years will be known as Harry Gwala Regional Hospital.

Unveiling the new name, KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane announced plans to build a state-of-the-art maternity complex at the hospital. She also gave hospital officials a tongue-lashing, saying they needed to manage the facility properly so that it lived up to its name.

The occasion was attended by the Gwala family; Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi, who is also the chairperson of the Harry Gwala Foundation; amakhosi, and the mayor of Umsunduzi Local Municipality, Mzimkhulu Thebolla.

Delivering her speech, Simelane said the government would not be deterred from naming public amenities after Struggle heroes, so that their names and contribution to society lived on.

However, she pointed out that this posed a great challenge to the custodians of such institutions to uphold the highest professional standards at all times.

She gave health facility managers throughout the province an ultimatum to improve the level of care delivered to the public, or face the consequences.

“With the naming of our institution after our heroes comes a responsibility for management to raise and maintain service delivery standards. I cannot imagine a Harry Gwala Regional Hospital that is bedevilled by poor management, bad infrastructure, abuse of patients, and a generally negative reputation.

“You have to come up with a turnaround strategy. You must make sure that the people of Edendale are able to relate to the Harry Gwala Regional Hospital and own it. We must not be getting calls at night from people complaining about not getting adequate service. It cannot be this hospital that has those problems. And if it does not change, there will be consequences.”

According to the provincial Health Department, in recent years the hospital has undergone a series of upgrades to its facilities including:

• The accidents and emergency and outpatients departments.

• Public and patients’ ablution facilities at the Gateway Clinic

• Replacement of broken gutters and downpipes

• Repairs to the walls at the front entrance of the hospital

• Construction of a new Communicable Diseases Clinic and Anti-Retroviral Treatment Pharmacy

In addition, Simelane said a number of other projects were due to start in the new financial year, including:

• Replacement of the lifts at the nurses’ home, to the tune of R1.8 million.

• An asbestos removal programme, which will cost R6m.

• Construction of a brand-new maternity ward complex, which will cost R75m and greatly improve the environment in which babies are born.

“These will be the legacy projects as part of improving the service that we deliver to our people, while we pay homage to uBab’uGwala,” Simelane said.

Who is Harry Gwala?

Popularly known as “The Lion of the Midlands”, the legendary and tough-talking Harry Gwala – who briefly worked at Northdale Hospital – was an ANC, SACP and South African Council of Trade Unions (Sactu) activist who was harassed, persecuted and imprisoned on Robben Island on two different occasions.

He was first arrested for “sabotage”, tried and sentenced to eight years, from 1964 and 1972.

After his release from prison, he was rearrested in 1975, this time for “terrorism”. He was handed a life sentence. He was released in 1988 due to ill-health. He died in 1995.

IOL

Share this article: