Piles of dirty hospital linen, clothes found dumped in Eastern Cape

Dirty laundry near informal settlement feared to have been used by Covid-19 patients

Dirty hospital linen has been found dumped in Komani by residents who suspect it was used by patients with Covid-19.
Dirty hospital linen has been found dumped in Komani by residents who suspect it was used by patients with Covid-19.
Image: SUPPLIED

Piles of dirty hospital linen and clothing have been found dumped near an informal settlement in Komani (formerly Queenstown) by residents who suspect it may have been used by patients with Covid-19.

The residents claim that after the find at the weekend, they alerted health officials, saying it was a health hazard.

On investigation, it turned out that the linen was from the Komani Psychiatric Hospital and was found dumped in the open, not far from an informal settlement.

Some of the discarded clothing and linen found had the hospital's name written on it, reports DispatchLIVE.

The provincial health department on Sunday promised to launch an investigation.

Departmental spokesperson Siyanda Manana said on Sunday, “There has been no disposal of linen at the [Komani] hospital.” 

He said the department had sent an official to the site to gather information and report back.

“An investigation has been launched by the department to establish how the linen ended up at the site. In that hospital there have not been more than 10 people that had Covid-19.

An investigation has been launched by the department to establish how the linen ended up at the site. In that hospital there have not been more than 10 people that had Covid-19
Health department spokesperson Siyanda Manana

“The linen was washed by a private service provider. There has not been anything that suggests anything had gone missing,” he said.

A staff member from the hospital, who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of victimisation, said some of the clothes were new and were used only once or twice by their patients.

“This is hazardous, as these are clothes that were used by mental patients. You would not know if some of the patients who were wearing these clothes had been affected by Covid-19.”

The employee said they heard that some homeless people had started to collect the clothes.

“The management of this hospital should answer for this. Even if the clothes were not suitable to be used again, there are other ways of destroying them, instead of throwing them into the street. Now we hear that residents, mostly homeless, have started to use them.”

Asked if this was not the work of a service provider, the staff member said despite that, the hospital should be managing its linen properly.

Even if a service provider did this, the hospital's senior managers should know where these clothes were going and also check if they've arrived at their destination
Employee who wished to remain anonymous

“People sent me these pictures and when I looked at them, it was the Komani hospital. Even if a service provider did this, the hospital's senior managers should know where these clothes were going and also check if they've arrived at their destination.”

The employee said they had a “world class” laundry at the hospital but it was not used as the hospital was using external service providers to wash patients' clothes and linen.

“We also hear that some clothes have been burnt instead of being washed. This is a waste of government money. Officials should be managing this.”

National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union Komani regional secretary, Sibusiso Kemte, said he had heard about the dumped linen through the “grapevine” and his organisation was investigating.

“For now, we are still investigating to find out what exactly happened, and until we get the real facts, we cannot comment.”

DispatchLIVE

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