A video of Limpopo health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba lashing out at a Zimbabwean patient at a provincial government hospital has sparked an outcry.
The MEC is heard telling the patient that migrants are to blame for her department’s stretched budget.
Dr Angelique Coetzee, a Solidarity Doctors Network board member, said the MEC was out of line.
“This patient is a victim of the drama between the two countries. Even if they cross the border illegally to get health services, it’s not their fault. She [the MEC] wasn’t supposed to embarrass her like that in front of people.
“It was unethical, unprofessional and out of line. She should have addressed that at a different level,” Coetzee said.
She added that the constitution makes it compulsory for anyone to receive emergency medical attention.
Dr Mike Ramothwala, from the Limpopo department of health, endorsed the MEC’s statements, saying: “The last statistics showed that 80% of women giving birth at Musina hospital are illegal Zimbabweans and SA women sometimes didn’t find beds to give birth on. We are trying to fix our healthcare system but we can never do it unless what our MEC is saying is addressed.”
While some on social media agreed with the MEC, many felt the patient was unfairly treated by her and the watching officials who laughed mockingly during the outburst.
Here is a selection of the comments:
“I will never celebrate or praise the ridiculing of a poor black person. I reject what the Limpopo health MEC and PR agents did to that poor woman. Zimbabweans may be poor and desperate, but they are human beings. At the surgery bed …[broken heart emoji].” — Nala Thokozane.
“With due respect, you don’t tell this to a patient waiting for medical treatment. What must she do now after this disgraceful speech? Get off the bed? Politicians must solve this problem, give these speeches in parliament or wherever they meet AND not at a hospital bed!” — Palesa Morudu Rosenberg
“You are a doctor, where is your ethics and oath? We not disputing what she said. But in front of camera and people laughing. That’s the wrong person to channel her anger on a patient who is in pain. What if that patient dies after this video what would you say? Ubuntu, doctor, it’s simple as that.” — @imuwunganirwa
“I disagree with the approach despite the truths in it. This should be a bilateral discussion between the two presidents. [SA’s Cyril] Ramaphosa is not honest with [Zimbabwe’s Emmerson] Mnangagwa whenever they meet. Things wouldn’t have deteriorated to this level if SA took Zim leaders to task.” — @MadiBoity.
“These issues were identified in 1994 and government did nothing for 28 years. This can only be addressed through multilateral agreements and allocations from the customs union.” — Alex van den Heever