The Khayelitsha District hospital.
THE Western Cape health MEC rejected a call to account to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on irregularities alleged to have been found at the Khayelitsha District Hospital (KDH).

MEC Nomafrench Mbombo, KDH chief executive Dr Anwar Kharwa, Khayelitsha Eastern Substructure Office head Dr Michael Phillips, Chief Director of Metro District Health Services Dr Giovanni Perez and Head of Department Dr Beth Engelbrecht declined the invitation, stating that the NCOP had no legal right to call them to account on matters relating to the hospital.

Department spokesperson Mark van der Heever said this was as a result of advice sought from the department’s legal counsel.

“On advice from senior legal counsel, the department was advised that it was not appropriate for it to comply with the committee’s request at this point, as it is of the view that the committee is acting outside of the powers afforded to it by the constitution,” he said.

The hearing, held as a response to a petition submitted by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) and chaired by Dumisani Ximbi, chairperson of the NCOP’s select committee on petitions and select undertakings, heard several irregularities ranging from hospital mismanagement to staff intimidation.

Over recent months, the hospital has been hit by reports of poor patient care, staff shortages and financial mismanagement, where the chief executive was awarded R241 266.09 in lieu of untaken leave for the period 2011 to 2015.

They also heard of how a nurse, had been dismissed without a formal hearing for allegedly asking questions about decisions made by her superiors, sexual assault, misuse of funds as well as staff shortages.

Nurse Thandeka Mdekazi alleged that a colleague had been drugged and sexually assaulted by a doctor and the matter was reported to the police, but the had department insisted on dealing with the matter internally.

While the department confirmed the incident, it said that it could not engage the media on the matter.

Mdekazi also alleged she had been dismissed without a formal hearing.

“There was no hearing, no minutes to prove that there was a hearing, and when I appealed my dismissal on November 30th, I lost the case on the 11th of December, but found out through the medical aid scheme that my benefits had been cut as of November 30th.

“I then questioned how it was possible for me to lose an appeal in December, but my termination, according to the department, was sent through to the medical aid as being the 30th of November. It was clear that a decision was made before any formal engagements,” she said.

Mdekazi is challenging the dismissal.

While the department acknowledges and confirms staffing issues, Van der Heever dispels claims that staff have been bullied or contracts illegally terminated.

“Between January and September 30, 2018, 26 disciplinary processes against staff were initiated which ranged from being absent with no reason to poor performance and refusal to carry out instructions. All disciplinary processes adhered to the labour relations policies and procedures, which allows for a fair process that makes provision for appeals. During this period, the hospital had 40 terminations of services,” said Van der Heever.

Olwethu Sigogo, Nehawu regional branch manager and shop steward at the hospital, said the irregularities at KDH adversely affected the community as a whole. Sigogo told the hearing that “it is the working-class of Khayelitsha that is suffering because of these irregularities”.

Nehawu now demands that a thorough investigation into all its submissions be done and the image of the hospital be restored.

Ximbi and his committee could not give a ruling or recommendations on the matter this week and said they would ensure that the MEC and other officials would avail themselves to account to the committee in order for an informed decision is made.