Minister of Health embarrassed by Pelonomi incident 

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Newly appointed Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize, addressing the media at Pelonomi Hospital. PHOTOS: PIERCE VAN HEERDEN

The new Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize, says he is embarrassed about the incident in which a 24-year-old medical intern was a victim of an attempted rape at Pelonomi Hospital on Tuesday night. He says he believes that it should not have happened.

This morning Mkhize, together with Free State Primier, Sisi Ntombela, and the departmental management, visited Pelonomi Hospital in Bloemfontein.

Mkhize said he is aware that the hospital is vast, has many entrances and that there is a lot of movement, but the fact that this incident occurred, shows that there was a breach in security.  He said where lapses in day to day maintenance of the security system occurred, there has to be consequences.

“We believe a lot more needs to done at Pelonomi, in terms of security. A whole security upgrade needs to be done here, from broken locks to gates that aren’t being managed properly and ensuring that the security guards working here are up to standard.”

He said that in the particular area where the incident occurred, there should be a reasonably high maximum security because there are doctors in that area. An investigation will be done and a full report will be provided.

Bloemfontein Courant received a video last night, where an anonymous doctor from the hospital showed that even after security was supposedly beefed up at the hospital, there was still no security guards in sight.

The department spokesperson, Mondli Mvambi, said that he is aware that security was scarce at the hospital last night, as he was also there between 20:30 and 21:30. He told Bloemfontein Courant, that he spoke to the security and told them to move in the agreed strategic points.

“The CEO of the hospital was also doing his rounds and once all the evidence is collected, a way forward will be decided by the MEC and HOD of the department.”

Mvambi said that CCTV footage and the security assessment reports, will show who was where on Tuesday night and consequence management will be applied.

This comes after the intern doctor bit off a man’s tongue as he attempted to rape her while she was sleeping in one of the overnight staff quarters on Tuesday.

Following the attack, the suspect fled to the National Hospital where they realised he fit the description of the perpetrator in the incident which was already reported to all health facilities in the Bloemfontein area. Police were called in and they took him back to Pelonomi where he was identified by his victim.

 Sazly Hartzenberg

sazly@centralmediagroup.co.za