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City Health is counting the cost of yet more burglaries and vandalism at its clinics – a seemingly never-ending cycle. Read more below:

The City of Cape Town’s Health Directorate has submitted insurance claims valued at more than R750 000 over a nine-month period for losses incurred as a result of theft and burglary.

In two of the most recent incidents last week, criminals damaged the roof and stole pipes and taps at the Newfields Satellite Clinic in Hanover Park, leaving the facility without water and electricity.

In Khayelitsha, criminals made off with three computers from the Zakhele Clinic on Monday 2 May 2016. The following night, thieves stole 50 white plastic chairs from the clinic and damaged the front door and burglar gate. Other clinics in Khayelitsha have also been targeted in recent weeks, including two incidents at the Town 2, Nolungile and Kuyasa clinics.‘These are only some of the most recent examples, but crime is an ongoing headache at many of our clinics. It severely affects service delivery. Without computers or access to electricity, staff have to revert to manual data capturing and retrieval of client files, which slows down the rate at which patients can be attended to. You cannot run the clinic when the water supply is disrupted, so clients have to be turned away,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Health, Councillor Siyabulela Mamkeli.

Between 1 July 2015 and 31 March 2016, City Health submitted 104 insurance claims. Of these, 77 were for incidents of theft and/or burglary and 16 were related to damages associated with vandalism. The two clinics with the highest number of claims were Mzamomhle Clinic in Brown’s Farm (nine) and Nolungile Clinic in Khayelitsha (six).

In this financial year, a budget of just over R10 million has been allocated for security at health facilities – up from R8,2 million in the 2014/15 financial year – to cater for security hardening measures such as the installation of burglar bars, fencing, and alarm systems as well as security guards to patrol the sites.

‘This wilful damage is demoralising for our staff and increases the risk of clients defaulting on life-saving medication when clinic operations are affected. I condemn these callous acts in the strongest terms because once again the most vulnerable among us are most affected by the selfish actions of a few criminals.

‘We are already spending a significant portion of our budget on security measures and insurance claims – funds that could have been used to improve service delivery. People need to start realising that the money we are spending on safeguarding clinics and fixing damage caused by the very communities who we are trying to serve has a negative impact on the quality of the health services that they’re receiving,’ added Councillor Mamkeli.

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