Night shift halted at Eastern Cape clinic since November robbery

Joubertina Community Healthcare Centre in Koukamma Municipality stopped receiving patients at night after a robbery last year.
Joubertina Community Healthcare Centre in Koukamma Municipality stopped receiving patients at night after a robbery last year.
Image: Mkhuseli Sizani / GroundUp

Joubertina Community health care Centre in Koukamma municipality stopped receiving patients at night after a robbery last year. Despite calls from local residents and political leaders, night shift duty remains suspended, GroundUp reported.

According to a media release issued by the police on November 23 2019, at about 1.30am that day, two men arrived at the hospital pretending to be ill. They overpowered the security guard and tied him up.

The suspects then went to the reception area and overpowered the cashier and staff on duty. Three more suspects arrived.

The pharmacy was broken into and an unknown number of items were taken. The staff were robbed of their cellphones and cash. Two hospital vehicles were stolen but were recovered after being abandoned about 15km outside Joubertina, towards Port Elizabeth, the statement said.

The police's Capt Gerda Swart confirmed the matter was still under investigation.

According to the chairperson of the clinic committee, Koko Yona, the centre serves people from Loutewater, Misgund, Joubertina, Kerkeel, Upper Langkloof and surrounding farms. The facility now operates from 7am-7pm.

“Anyone who gets sick outside these hours should go to the nearest hospital in Kareedouw, 45km away, or wait until we open,” he said.

He said staff were traumatised by the robbery and had received counselling.

“Since that robbery last year, all staff members — the nurses, guards, clerks, cashiers and cleaners — felt insecure about working at night at the hospital. We asked the subdistrict health manager to beef up our security. We asked for surveillance cameras and burglar gates so  no-one can easily enter the hospital,” he said.

“Three weeks back we met with the district manager again to find out about the progress made regarding our security request. He said he had just received the tender procurement documents.

“For a short-term solution, we are asking for donors to help us with temporary security measures,” said Yona.

Natasha Snyman, who went to the facility for treatment, said: “In the past we were never turned away, but since that robbery we are being turned away and asked to come back the following day. The gates are closed at 6pm and only those already inside will be attended to.

“At night we really struggle. The ambulances take too long to arrive, or don't arrive at all. We have to wait until the following day or drive all the way to Kareedouw Hospital.”

Neil Plaatjies, a Joubertina community leader, said: “The department is gambling with people’s lives. On weekends there are a lot of stabbings here. The ambulances take too long to arrive because they come all the way from Humansdorp. The ambulance drivers get lost when they arrive here because they are not familiar with the area. The hospital was playing a big role by operating day and night.”

Judy Ngoloyi, spokesperson for Eastern Cape heath MEC Sindiswa Gomba, said: “In the next financial year, starting in April, the department will be procuring additional security measures such as a surveillance system for the Joubertina hospital. The services will then return to normal.”

 


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