Psychiatric patient escapes during Mpumalanga MEC's safety and security visit

A psychiatric patient was chased down during the MEC's safety and security visit
A psychiatric patient was chased down during the MEC's safety and security visit
Image: 123RF/Lucian Coman

In a surprise visit to check and strengthen safety and security at the Rob Ferreira Hospital on Thursday afternoon, Mpumalanga MEC for community safety, security and liaison, Gabisile Shabalala, was surprised when she had to chase for a patient who escaped from the psychiatric ward. 

Shabalala reprimanded Mabotwane security company after she found out that the doors at the paediatric ward were not locking, wards like psychiatric had no padlocks and one security guard was not at his post. 

Shabalala said she was worried that wards like paediatric and psychiatric which needs to be guarded the security company take it as normal to not let them be at risk. 

A newborn baby was stolen at the hospital in 2014, and in 2016, a man stabbed his nurse girlfriend and committed suicide by throwing himself from the fourth flour. In 2018, a psychiatric patient who escaped from the hospital was found dead on the streets of the Mbombela CBD. 

“The doors at the paediatric ward need to be locked and when one security guard goes for a break we need someone else to look after the ward. We can’t have nurses doing your jobs. This psychiatric ward is one ward that needs to be protected by all means and all the time. I hear that the security guard has left for lunch, that is totally wrong. 

"What if these patients leave and hurt other patients in the hospital. We don’t want government to be sued and pay millions because of your negligence whereas we pay a lot of money for our institutions to be safe,” said Shabalala who issued four warnings including to Mabotwane’s supervisor. 

Shabalala also asked about the security guards who had no firearms guarding gates and the doctors' residences. 

“Government pays you so that you have guns to make sure that our places are safe, but we only saw one. The security guard looking after the gates and also doctors' residences had no gun and is only one [person]. What if criminals come to rob the doctors? You should know that doctors are very scarce and if their lives are not safe it’s wrong,” said Shabalala. 

Shabalala also went to Themba Hospital where she also find inadequate  security personnel. 

Shabalala also asked for the hospital management to report issues of security when they don’t feel safe. 

“We need you management of the hospitals to talk to us on issues of security because these security companies can lie to us whereas you are not safe,” said Shabalala. 

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