Tower report shock
FIn the aftermath of Health Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba’s shocking report on Tower Hospital in Fort Beaufort, Grocott’s Mail spoke to affected communities about their concerns. ort Beaufort community should not be expected to Mana stated that Makgoba’s members are filled with produce evidence: it’s the Ombud’s report had been the final hope disappointment, and one job to produce evidence.” for the community, but that it Grahamstown (Makhanda) A major concern was that “turned out not to be the hope medical practitioner expressed the whistleblower had been we were hoping for”. their fear after the Ombud’s painted to appear as if he had “When 1994 came, it didn’t attack on whistleblower, Dr not acted in good faith. “He really come for normal people Kiran Sukeri. still acted in good faith,” they only: it should be there for the
“It’s appalling that I am worried said. “It’s an appalling outcome. patients at Tower. The people about speaking to you It’s unacceptable.” who are vulnerable, the people at [my place of work],” said In Fort Beaufort, community who are not able to do things the practitioner to Grocott’s members share similar concerns. on their own – they should be Mail. “I am afraid.” protected by the Constitution
The source described their Mthetheleli Mana, a former of this country. The people shock over the report, criticising staff member of Tower Hospital who are given the task to save the comments about the and active member of the these people must do their task whistleblower and questioning ANC, emphasised that Makgoba’s rather than being protected.” Makgoba’s integrity. “It’s not report was politically Another concerned community [Dr Sukeri’s] competence that motivated. “His report was so member spoke under should be questioned,” they disappointing to say the least, anonymity. said. “It’s the Ombud’s. He’s but I will not say I don’t understand “The Ombud is protecting being equally coy, complex why,” said Mana. “There the government,” they said. [and] deceptive.” are elections coming.” “But hammering the patients
“The overall issue has been “I’m not going to say [Makgoba] and the community as well. I’m lost. One, the whistleblower is hiding anything, I’m under the impression the Ombud should be thanked, [and] two, saying he is saving the present did not get enough time someone needs to be held to government.” to rehearse his report. It looks account.” The source criticised “There couldn’t be another naive or automatic to say that Makgoba’s statement that he Esidimeni or another Tower,” there is nothing wrong with found no evidence of institutional he said. “Because it would tarnish Tower Hospital.” human rights violations the image of the ANC. As The source said they were at Tower Hospital. “If he found a member of ANC it helps, but not surprised by Makgoba’s report: no evidence, he should say so for the community, it’s a negative “The government cannot – full stop.” thing, and government come out to the media [admitting]
They continued to question needs to do something to save its mistakes.” why the whistleblower the situation.” The morning Makgoba released had been slammed for failing “The truth behind Tower is his report, 23 August, to produce “scientific” that both the patients and the Eastern Cape MEC for Health, evidence. “The whistleblower employees are not happy.” Helen Sauls-august issued a statement thanking the efforts of whistleblowers, and welcoming Makgoba’s recommendations.
The MEC’S sentiments towards the whistleblower differed greatly from Makgoba’s, causing speculation among community members.
“There is a horrible, vast space between what the MEC and the Ombud have said. When you are blowing a whistle you are making a noise, so how can you say it’s just a noise. The whistleblower did that deliberately to make a noise, and that noise is heard.”
The source concluded: “It’s so sad to report something to the one you think is going to solve the situation, and your cry is not heard.
“It’s so sad to vote for someone you trust; now the very same government is saying there’s nothing wrong, whereas we know for a fact that under the skin, there are horrible, big mistakes and abuse within Tower Hospital.”
Grocott’s Mail will continue to investigate the Eastern Cape’s mental health care crisis, and will not be removing or apologising for previously published stories or the collaborative documentary that appeared on ENCA’S Checkpoint.