SAHRC must take legal action against MEC Dhlomo – DA KZN

Imran Keeka says enquiry into possible charges of culpable homicide against MEC is ongoing

#KZNOncologyCrisis: DA calls on SAHRC to take legal action against MEC Dhlomo

22 March 2018

The Democratic Alliance will today again write to the South African Human Rights Commission to urge Chairperson, Advocate Bongani Majola, to take legal action against KZN’s Health MEC. We will also endeavour to meet with him soon to discuss this urgent matter.

The move comes after a meeting with the provincial SAPS last week, during which it was confirmed that an enquiry into possible charges of culpable homicide against MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo is ongoing following the deaths of hundreds of cancer patients in the province as a result of lack of access to proper oncology treatment.

The reality is that with the ongoing breakdown of oncology services, patients are worse off than ever.

It is time that the Commission stopped tolerating MEC Dhlomo’s attempts to escape justice and tightened the noose on him and his Department. To date he has failed to comply with their recommendations, nor has he fully accounted to them – in particular refusing to divulge how many patients have died from negligence following the non-provision of services.

One of the SAHRC’s recommended solutions was that the MEC and his Department establish Public Private Partnerships to improve services at KZN hospitals, however, this move seems to have hit all kinds of snags with:

- The initiative at Ngewlezana Hospital that sees up to 75 patients a month may stop at the end of March when the contract ends;

- Only two of the three oncologists that are part of the Wits Consortium at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital (IALCH) have arrived while the tender is only valid for six months. Tragically, when this hospital’s oncology staff started calling patients to make appointments to see the oncologists, it was found that 10 patients had already died while waiting. This was on the first day of calls;

- Addington Hospital’s oncology machines remain broken despite a June 2017 directive from the SAHRC to fix them. This was not an option for the MEC to fulfil at his own pace yet almost nine months later there is no progress in spite of the public announcements that they would be fixed by the end of last year – a goal post which has since shifted to the end of April 2018 and now, finally to July.

To date there has been no evidence of any kind of political will from KZN’s so-called ANC leadership in solving the province’s Oncology crisis. This despite the SAHRC having gifted Premier Willies Mchunu all the tools of accountability on a silver platter. In fact, yesterday, the Premier and his cabinet went so far as to parade themselves as the champions of Human Rights at an event in the province. Perhaps he has forgotten that the province’s chief violator of human rights is amongst his executive.

The DA notes that justice has now been served through a quick and due process for the victims of the Esidimeni massacre, with both actions and compensation. We expect the same for the families and victims of KZN’s oncology crisis.

The SAHRC has the power to act and we will urge them to do so, more especially when we meet.

Issued by Imran KeekaDA KZN Spokesperson on Health, 22 March 2018