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GOOD Party demands CoCT consult MPlain residents over potential closure of local clinics

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By Tauhierah Salie

The GOOD Party has demanded that the City of Cape Town pay attention to concerned residents of Mitchells Plain, who say they were not consulted regarding the potential closure of two local clinics by June. Residents say the easily accessible Eastridge and Rocklands clinics have been servicing the over-populated area for years’ and that children and elderly will bear the brunt of the closures.

Both clinics provide a variety of healthcare services including child, women and men’s health, child health, Family planning, general TB, HIV and STI care. Additionally, Rocklands clinic is understood to offer substance abuse support and treatment while Eastridge Clinic also caters to cancer screening and Covid -19 testing.

GOOD councilor Saul Markgraff handed a petition- with over 2 700 opposing signatures- to Mayco member for Community Service and Health Patricia van der Ross on Thursday morning.

In a statement, the GOOD party sought answers to numerous concerns raised by residents. While the party speculated that budget cuts may be to blame, the City was called upon to provide clarity regarding: reasons and timelines for closure, how many patients will be affected and to where they will be diverted and what the procedure for objection or public participation is.

Van der Ross however says that no plans have been finalized or timelines set. According to the mayco member, the City and Western Cape Health Department are re-evaluating health services in the area in a bid to “consolidate facilities in the interest of the community”.

Markgraff emphasized that the residents should have been consulted before any announcements were made. He further pointed out the ‘lack of decency’ by Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis, who was initially invited to publicly receive the petition and deployed Van der Ross instead. According to Markgraff this points to the DA-led administration’s approach to Cape Flats citizens, in that they are neglected once vote campaigns draw to a close.

Patients outside the clinic meanwhile expressed their disagreement with the move. At least five women over the age of 60 questioned what other transport and treatment options are available, saying that the nearby taxi rank makes travelling easy and that economic struggles hamper charity.

Youthful Yazeed van de Merwe was deeply troubled over the elderly and vulnerable mothers with young children, who can easily fall victim to widespread crime in the area.  Mother to a four-year-old girl, Olwethu, shared his sentiment and condemned the potential closure.

Despondent mother Yushna also pointed out that better equipment is needed at the Eastridge clinic, where she stood in line with her one-year-old son. She says that antibiotics and Panado’s are all that is given to parents for their sick children, adding that ques are often stagnant for long periods. The young woman claims that a seating area stands vacant in the clinic while patients are forced to cue in the hot sun outside.

Van de Ross admitted that community engagement had not yet taken place, stating that this is due to uncertainty on the way forward. The recently appointed mayco member says that discussions over a shift in service delivery “has been coming on for years” and that a review of services is needed to ensure Constitutionality. She committed to ensuring the “people are heard” and consulted with before any closures takes place.


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