no chanGe AT 'death hospital'

SERVICES at the Helene Franz Hospital and Blouberg municipality in Limpopo came to a standstill over the past few days when residents and municipal officials took to the streets to protest against maladministration, corruption and a total collapse of services.

SERVICES at the Helene Franz Hospital and Blouberg municipality in Limpopo came to a standstill over the past few days when residents and municipal officials took to the streets to protest against maladministration, corruption and a total collapse of services.

Led by a group of disgruntled residents and municipal officials called the Blouberg Development Forum (BDF), they handed a memorandum of grievances to hospital CEO George Baloyi on Friday.

About 800 people affiliated to the forum accused hospital management of acting at a snail's pace to upgrade the hospital in which hundreds of patients have died.

The hospital made headlines recently after it recorded a total of 172 deaths in three months - the highest number of deaths recorded at any hospital in the province.

Sowetan reported on the collapse of the hospital's services last year after it was dubbed "the hospital of death" by Senwabarwana residents.

About 11 months later things at the hospital haven't changed. During Friday's protest residents claimed that the hospital's only operating theatre was not operational.

Protesters claimed that many pregnant women died in labour because of this and said the hospital had only one doctor for every 200 patients.

"We call for the the appointment of a new hospital board that will have the interest of patients at heart," protest organiser Dan Sematla said.

Health department spokesperson Selby Makgotho said the residents' grievances were legitimate and promised to study the memorandum and report back to them.

Residents then marched to the Blouberg local municipality to hand over another memorandum to acting municipal manager Seleka Ratladi.

The forum accused management under municipal mayor Serite Sekgoloane of awarding contracts involving several million to relatives, friends and political juntas.

"We have a list of companies that were given to municipal manager Ike Makhura to appoint.

"After failing to do so Sekgoloane and his junta suspended him. We want Makhura back, or else," said the memorandum.

But the protest was condemned by the DA, ANC, SACP and South African National Civics Organisation (Sanco), who said it did not represent the majority.

Capricorn regional Sanco secretary Sanny Mannya said the protest was organised by a faction comprising those not nominated for ANC leadership in the coming regional conference.

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