Free State community call on government to rebuild clinic that was destroyed by fire

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The Community of Majwemasweu in Winnie Mandela in the Free State is lamenting the absence of a clinic in their area.

Three years ago, Vaalrock Clinic was destroyed, allegedly in an act of arson. The fire resulted in medical equipment and medication being destroyed in the blaze.

The clinic provided health services for about 25 000 people. Following the fire, the provincial Health Department said it would spend R20 million to build another clinic in the area, but so far nothing has happened.

Residents say they are forced to walk long distances to a neighbouring clinic, which they say is always overburdened. They also complain that sometimes they leave the clinic without getting medical attention.

The residents allege they were promised a new clinic by 2021, but they are still waiting.

“It’s sad after our clinic was burnt down and not yet rebuilt even though we were promised that in 2021 we will have a new clinic. Even now we don’t a clinic we are still struggling,” a resident says.

“The clinic has affected me because we have to walk a long distance to Marantha Clinic and we are not treated well at that clinic. We have children, who must collect medication, but we are forced to stay there the whole day,” says another resident.

“We struggle, we walk a long distance to Marantha Clinic and we are forced to leave early in the morning at around 7 am. You would stay a long time by the time they open you still have to wait another period of time. So we are still struggling,” adds another resident.

Backlog of clinics

The provincial Health Department says it’s regrettable the clinic was burnt down. Department spokesperson, Mondli Mvambi says there’s a backlog of clinics that are supposed to be built closer to communities. Mvambi says the department is doing its best to provide infrastructure this year.

“We have put in the plans of the department, which are going to be in the new financial year, which is starting in two weeks’ time. So the plan is there it will be in the design stage and they will work it out. They must advertise the tender and must get the appropriate suitable companies to build within the shortest space of time. And we are looking at worst for everything goes well between the period of January, February and March, March next year 2023 the new clinic will be built there, just to make sure that it covers the need of the people in that area.”

Near the old clinic is the Reakgathalla Foster Care Cluster Village, which has been abandoned. 13 of the houses in the village have been vandalised and the furniture damaged. Only seven houses remain occupied.

Residents explain:

“I’m scared because we don’t have security, there’s nothing. We just staying here without security. Even at night, you would hear sounds of breaking at night. We wake up and check through the windows to see what is going on. But, we are scared as women as we stay alone with orphaned children.”

“My feeling is that I’m not happy about this place. We are scared, particularly at night of being attacked by thugs, who smoke nyaope. They come in here and break. We are scared because of lack of security.”

The Social Development Department says it will investigate circumstances around the abandoning of foster care facilities.

Residents unhappy over the state of the Vaalrock clinic three years after it was reduced to ashes in a fire

Name change of Brandfort

Residents of Majwemasweu say service delivery is poor in their area. They halted a function to mark the name change of Brandfort to Winnie Mandela last year.

Residents want money used for the function to be redirected to improving people’s lives.

Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa approved the name change for the Free State town of Brandfort to Winnie Mandela last year.

Residents and political formations have had mixed reactions to plans to rename Brandfort after Winnie Madikizela-Mandela: 9 April 2021