The Public Service Commission (PSC) has made a surprise visit to the Cecilia Makiwane Mental Health Unit. Spotlight reports that this was 10 days after its investigation into a whistleblower’s plea about the unit’s dire state was published. The visit to the hospital in Mdantsane, Eastern Cape, was led by commissioner Lulu Sizani on 16 August. Though it was “unannounced”, a press release was issued two days before, inviting media to attend.
Spotlight says it found increased security presence at the hospital compared with its previous visit, as well as a boot check at the gate. The grounds of the hospital remained unkempt; with old medical equipment abandoned in the corridors along with rubbish and weeds. However, the passageway leading to the mental health unit had been given a facelift. The weeds and grass had been tended to and rubbish collected.
The old wards next to the unit were also empty and swept clean; the report said it had previously noted that these wards were a security concern to patients and staff. A grounds worker is quoted in the report as saying that they had been cleaning for the past two days, and other sources questioned the timing of the PSC’s visit after witnessing the sudden bout of cleaning.
Spotlight reports that after the visit, Sizani called the unit “a disaster” and described it as being in “a total state of neglect”. “It’s like a place that is deserted or has been deserted for many years,” she said. “I’m deeply hurt. It’s not something that happened last month or last year; it’s in a state of disrepair. She said a detailed report that included recommendations would be submitted to Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane and Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba on 5 September 2019.
Spotlight reports that Eastern Cape Health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo declined to comment on the PSC’s visit until the report was available. The Mental Health Review Board for the Eastern Cape central region declined to comment on the investigation.
[link url="https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2019-08-26-cecilia-makiwane-hospital-mental-health-unit-a-disaster-says-public-service-commissioner/"]Daily Maverick report[/link]