Staff at Michael Mapongwana Day Clinic in Harare, Khayelitsha, say they are battling with an influx of patients this week.
This follows a burglary at the Kuyasa clinic which forced the facility to shut its doors to most patients.
The break-in happened in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Thieves used a crowbar to enter the clinic and got away with several items, including new computers.
The uninterrupted power supply (UPS) cabinet was damaged. The cost of the damage is yet to be confirmed.
Zahid Badroodien, City of Cape Town Mayco Member for Community Services and Health, said the break-in was a “significant setback for health services in the area”.
Badroodien said the Kuyasa Community Day Centre treated on average 400 patients per day. It has close to 5 000 patients on antiretroviral treatment and it manages about 500 TB patients per year.
“Clients come from Kuyasa, but also surrounding areas like Monwabisi Park, Enkanini, Ezwelitsha and Harare – a collective population of nearly 150 000,” he said.
When GroundUp visited Kuyasa, security guard Sakhumzi Mcimeli said: “My colleagues [who were on duty] said they went to investigate and saw three men drop a cupboard with medication. They ran away but were carrying knives and a crowbar.”
When GroundUp visited the clinic on Thursday, there were no patients in the reception area.
A senior staff member at Kuyasa said nurses had to turn patients away on Wednesday. “We can’t function without computers. We are supposed to close down the clinic, but we are open just so that we can deal with emergencies,” she said.
At Michael Mapongwana clinic, a nurse told us the facility was inundated with additional patients. “Residents who used to get help at Kuyasa clinic come here without folders, so the receptionists have to open new ones for them.”
She said nurses did not turn away anyone despite the increased workload. “We are coping but the increased workload is putting a strain on the nurses.”
Community leader Bonani Mbotyeni, who works as a cleaner at the clinic, said: “Patients arrive before 7 am and stand in queues inside and outside the clinic’s yard waiting to be treated.”
Kuyasa resident Puseletso Modise, 25, said she waited in line to have her tooth extracted. “I was among about 40 residents who went to the clinic to get medical attention, but the nurses could not help us until we demanded their attention.”
In a statement, Badroodien said as long as the clinic’s IT equipment was not replaced, “the flow of patients would be extremely slow and locating patients’ folders, access to lab results and labelling of medications” cannot be done.
He urged people with information about the break-in to come forward and assist the police to find the perpetrators.