LOMPOPO – Cracked walls and damaged ceilings characterise the Lephepane Clinic outside Tzaneen where the clinic committee is demanding that the facility be rebuilt.
The 25-year-old clinic has never undergone renovations, despite the committee having lodged requests for this with the Limpopo Department of Health since 2013. They have sent complaints to the provincial and national health departments as well as to Luthuli House, yet nothing has been done.
According to the secretary of clinic committee, Stephen Malesa, the provincial MEC for Health Dr Phophi Ramathuba visited the clinic in April and deemed structure unsafe. She promised to appoint surveyors to visit the clinic, but this has not yet happened.
“We are concerned about the safety of the staff and our community. That clinic is not safe at all. One day people will die in there and then maybe they will see a need for a new structure. We complained to everyone from the provincial, national to Lethuli but no one is listening to us,” Malesa complained.
“The MEC witnessed the bad state of the clinic and she promised us she will send the surveyors to survey the ground as the start of the process of building a new structure but no one came. They are still quiet. The government must just build a new clinic and stop with renovation plans,” he added.
Health Department spokesperson Neil Shikwambane confirmed that the infrastructure issue is known to the department, but said the building of a new structure is a long process.
“The issue of Lephepane clinic’s decaying structure is known, but the issue is that when we took a panel of contractors to go and do maintenance work, the community rejected them. They didn’t want refurbishment, they wanted a new structure,” Shikwambane said.
“We cannot build a clinic here and now. There are processes including financial constraints that must be taken into account, and that is a challenge we meet as a department,” he added.
The clinic committee recommended that the department deploy mobile clinics to the damaged premises to ensure a safe environment for the staff and patients in the meantime.