Limpopo MEC warns guards they’ll be fired for selling state propertyJanuary 18, 2023
Security guards at a clinic in Polokwane were left rattled when Limpopo Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba arrived unannounced at the premises, telling them they would be arrested should they be found selling state-issued face masks to patients.
Ramathuba, who is also a medical doctor, is known for visiting clinics and hospitals unannounced and live streaming it all on social media platforms.
She arrived at Rethabile Clinic in Polokwane on Monday to inquire about complaints she said she received regarding the sale of masks to the public.
“Allegations are that you are selling face masks to patients for R8 each. Patients who use clinics are poor and do not have money to buy masks.
“Let’s not abuse our powers please,” Ramathuba said.
The security guard denied selling masks, and is seen asking his colleagues if they were doing such.
“No one is selling masks here,” the guard told her.
ALSO READ: Limpopo Health MEC: Ramaphosa asked to protect Ramathuba after rant at patient
According to the MEC, patients seeking medical care were sent off by the security guards to go purchase masks outside the premises, even though the clinic hands over a box of masks to the guards daily, to distribute to arriving patients.
It is suspected that the surgical masks on sale come from the clinic.
“I also have evidence, that’s why I came here. The chairperson of the council of churches was here, and he was told to buy one for R8.
“There are also allegations that security guards sell the masks. If I catch you selling masks in any of our facilities, you will be fired,” she told one of the guards.
She didn’t name the mentioned chairperson.
Speaking to The Citizen on Wednesday, Ramathuba said she instructed management to not send boxes filled with masks to the guard house anymore.
“A security guard must now take a patient without a mask to a nurse, who will issue one to them. I don’t want to accuse the guards but we do not know where those boxes end up.
“It is not yet clear whether those ones on sale belong to the State, but they are all the same surgical masks. It is wrong to turn away patients from a clinic over a mask. An investigation will bring to light what is happening at Rethabile,” she said.
Infections on the rise
Ramathuba said nurses across the province complained that infections such as tuberculosis were on the rise, and therefore insist that everyone wear a mask at hospitals and clinics.
Managers were seen in the video clip walking outside towards Ramathuba and the security guards. One of them, identified as a supervisor, was not wearing a mask.
“I think we are not fair. If we want to implement a rule, it must start with her [supervisor] and me. We also can’t return patients because of masks. They come to the clinic because they have no money. “
Inside, she found pregnant women and other patients who had arrived very early in the morning and were kept waiting into the afternoon.
The supervisor and another person in charge of the help desk had been nowhere to be found for hours.
She told The Citizen that there has to be action against staffers who are found wanting.
“Unfortunately, our managers think they are money and they should be liked by everyone who comes seeking help. The sad thing is the people who are supposed to be doing the job are the working class who expect good services for themselves but are not willing to do the work for the public.
“The problem is people do not want to work. Nurses were just sitting in their offices at the back while patients and pregnant women were tired and hungry from queuing for hours. They are supposed to do the rounds and check on patients.
“There must be consequences for this. Why leave your desk when the clinic is crowded? The public is always complaining that public servants go for hours on lunch and return only to play games on the computers. It’s unfair on patients,” she said.
Ramathuba came under fire last year when she was captured on camera interrogating a patient inside a ward at a hospital in Bela Bela.
She was lambasted for telling the undocumented Zimbabwean woman that foreign nationals were to blame for South Africans not receiving adequate health care.
READ MORE: ‘I stand by my words’: Limpopo Health MEC says SADC countries must pay for their citizens