KZN Health MEC must be charged over oncology crisis: DA

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KWAZULU NATAL 21 June 2017 - The DA wants the KZN Health MEC to face culpable homicide charges over the deaths of cancer patients. Many died while waiting for the department to fix radiotherapy equipment, some of which has been broken since 2011.

JOHANNESBURG - The Democratic Alliance (DA) wants the KwaZulu-Natal health MEC to face culpable homicide charges over the deaths of cancer patients.

Many patients died while waiting for the provincial health department to fix radiotherapy equipment, some of which has been broken since 2011. 

READ: KZN healthcare on brink of collapse, say doctors

Six oncologists have left the public sector in KwaZulu-Natal, citing unreasonable working conditions, and specialist care for the entire province now rests on the shoulders of the two remaining oncologists.

The DA asked the SA Human Rights Commission to probe the matter. It said that KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo had overseen the collapse of the province's oncology services. 

DA spokesperson on health Imran Keeka said: "We know that MEC Dhlomo has presided for more than eight years, or approximately thereabout, over the department of health. We have seen HODs [heads of department] come and go. We have seen a high turnover of senior management staff recently yet the common denominator remains the MEC."

Keeka said Dhlomo must be criminally charged. “That charge might include even possibly be culpable homicide," he said

A task team from provincial Treasury is also investigating.

The Human Rights Commission has found that the MEC and his department violated patients' rights, while nNational Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi blames incompetent managers.

"Procurement functions are head of department functions ... But if you are talking about overall supervision, of course the MEC is in charge," said Motsoaledi

The KwaZulu-Natal premier now wants his office to manage the health department's procurement matters.

The premier's spokesperson, Ndabezinhle Sibiya said: "The Department of Finance has assigned a team of senior officials to manage supply-chain management in the Department of Health. They are also managing procurement processes to deal with problems related to the medical equipment that is used by tertiary institutions in KwaZulu-Natal."

The Human Rights Commission has given the department 10 days to produce a turnaround strategy.