'Some people faking cholera'

LIFE SUPPORT: Genuine cholera victims receiving medical care in Musina Hospital.  Cicra 2008. Pic. Unknown
LIFE SUPPORT: Genuine cholera victims receiving medical care in Musina Hospital. Cicra 2008. Pic. Unknown

Frank Maponya

Frank Maponya

The outbreak of cholera has also given rise to Zimbabwean nationals crossing over to South Africa claiming to be its victims.

Immigration officials claim that this is done to gain easier entry into the country to apply for asylum status.

They dupe the border authorities at Beit Bridge into believing they are seeking treatment for cholera, say the border officials.

Sowetan visited the border this week to assess the situation since the outbreak of the disease in Zimbabwe three weeks ago and was told the majority of those crossing into South Africa were faking illness.

The Limpopo department of health and social development has since deployed health officials at the border gate to properly screen and identify those claiming to suffer from the life-threatening disease.

The department has dealt with at least 657 cases of cholera since the outbreak on November 15. The death toll at the border post stands at eight.

Some of the people interviewed at the border confirmed that "some" Zimbabweans faked illnesses in order to gain entry into Musina.

Fidel Hadebe, the spokesman for Health Minister Barbara Hogan, said the huge demand on the health services was now stretching their limited resources.

He said the minister would soon meet with cabinet ministers from home affairs, security and defence to find ways of expanding "on the measures already in place". They were also considering enlisting the services of the SA National Defence Force's military health services to deal with the health situation.

"We are generally satisfied with the work that has been done by our health officials since the outbreak to control the disease," Hadebe said.

Limpopo's provincial department of health and social development said it had had to divert resources targeted for the next financial year to deal with the cholera outbreak.

Spokesman Phuti Seloba said they had also deployed health staffers from other towns to areas affected by the epidemic.