Zuma promises R250m hospital

PRESIDENT'S PLEDGE: 'The new hospital will have new management, enough beds and doctors'

RESIDENTS of Nzhelele, near Louis Trichardt in Limpopo, were yesterday rewarded for complaining about the state of their hospital, Siloam, with President Jacob Zuma pledging to build them a new R250 million hospital.

Speaking at an imbizo in the area yesterday, Zuma said when his administration took office, it pledged to "do things differently".

He said after listening to the complaints of the people of Nzhelele, he realised it was not fair to renovate the hospital, and that it would only be better to build a new one.

The new hospital is to be built in two phases - with the first phase starting in the 2011-2012 financial year and the second phase in the 2012-2013 financial year.

He promised that the new hospital would not face the challenges currently being faced by Siloam.

"The new hospital will have new management, enough beds and doctors," Zuma said.

He said he was made to believe that there was enough space to build a new hospital while the old one was in operation.

Local traditional healer Mbulaheni Neluvhola, who is the chairperson of the Vhembe Traditional Healers Practitioners, said Siloam Hospital was not clean and that the service there was poor.

"The hospital is bushy and some patients get lost in the premises," said Neluvhola.

He said there were no theatre equipment and that when they went to the dispensary they found "expired drugs".

After the visit, Zuma proceeded to Lebowakgomo Hospital, where he was warmly received. He visited patients in several wards, accompanied by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and Limpopo MEC for health Dikeledi Magadzi.

He then went to Lebowakgomo civic centre, where he listened to concerns by residents.

Bethuel Malepe from GaMphahlele said his file and X-ray documents, including his medical certificates, had disappeared from the hospital. He said he was suffering from asbestosis and could not be compensated because of the disappearance of the documents.

Other villagers pleaded with Zuma for clinics in their communities, saying they were ill-treated at Lebowakgomo Hospital because they came from "outside".

Zuma promised to attend to their concerns.