The City of Cape Town is working on a plan to protect the Hanover Park clinic from gang violence before reopening it, but residents say the process is taking too long
The clinic was closed on November 5 last year because warring gangs were threatening to the safety of both staff and patients (“Clinic shut down – for now,” Athlone News, November 11, 2015).
The staff was moved to the Newfields satellite clinic.
Hanover Park resident Isaac Newman said having to attend the clinic at Newfields was a “hassle” and “out of the way”.
“It’s not conducive for the community to have to attend the clinic so far away. I support the plan to beef up security, but we must also not give in to the wrongdoers. By closing the clinic, the City gave in to the wrongdoers,” Mr Newman said.
Ricardo Sedres agreed that the City was “giving in to gangs”.
“Crime affects the city, the province and the country, so we cannot say that the SAPS is solely responsible for patrols. Nobody can work in isolation, and the City must make use of its metro police to help the SAPS as well. I don’t know what is taking them so long to sort out the matter. If this was an affluent area, this would have been sorted a long time ago. In Hanover Park, we must always wait for solutions,” Mr Sedres said.
Another resident Elizabeth Bantom, who was involved with the Hanover Park health committee, said she would welcome any safety measures that led to the reopening of the clinic.
Ms Bantom said the health committee had not been active since 2013. She said she had raised her concerns with Health MEC Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, when the latter had visited the area last year.
“The clinic is an essential service. I support any measure that will ensure the safety of the staff and patients. Now mothers must walk far with their babies for this essential service.
“I even asked Dr Mbombo to bring in the army, if the SAPS and the metro police are not able to protect the clinic staff,” Ms Bantom said.
Siyabulela Mamkeli, mayoral committee member for health, said the staff had been counselled and “continued to provide the best service possible to the community from the Newfields satellite clinic”.
He added: “They have since indicated a willingness to return to the main clinic, provided that a plan is devised and implemented to ensure their safety and the safety of the clients. To this end, we are currently engaging with the safety and security directorate and other departments to determine how they can assist City Health in this regard. We are doing our utmost to finalise security arrangements as soon as possible, so that we can reopen the Hanover Park clinic.”
He apologised for the inconvenience the clinic closure had caused and said proposed safety measures included regular patrols near the clinic, bulletproof windows and hand-held metal scanners.