The University of Cape Town on Tuesday morning confirmed reports that “four cars were set alight at .
The meningitis scare in Gauteng has dropped a rare chance onto the lap of Health Minister Barbara Hogan to reinvigorate the department.
Parents at Eldorado Park, south of Johannesburg, were running scared after four children are reported to have died from meningitis, an infection of the tissues surrounding the brain.
Worried parents are fully justified if they swamp hospitals with every child who has a running nose, headache, rash or nausea.
Uncertainty can soon turn to panic, as the department should have learnt from the cholera outbreak that spread to South Africa from Zimbabwe last year.
Lest unfound perceptions and rumours become reality, the department can restore its tarnished reputation by immediately launching a campaign to educate parents and children about the symptoms and treatment of meningitis.
It must also prepare all medical facilities in the area to treat the disease.
Citizens don't care if these cases yet constitute a formal outbreak of the disease, they are just terrified their loved ones will fall victim.
The health department must manage this problem and restore the confidence of panicking residents.
A sympathetic bedside manner will often get a patient back on his feet far sooner than a hill of pills.