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STATEMENT BY MAYORAL COMMITTEE MEMBER FOR COMMUNITY SERVICES AND HEALTH, COUNCILLOR ZAHID BADROODIEN

Following the devastating fire at the Ikhwezi Clinic in Nomzamo, Strand, I have liaised with the Executive Mayor and secured a R50 000 reward for information that will lead to the arrest and successful conviction of those responsible for the apparent arson attack.

The Fire and Rescue Service responded to an alert at approximately 02:30 this morning, and extinguished the fire just after 04:00.

There has been extensive damage to the roof and the clinic interior, including the pharmacy and records room, where patient folders are kept.

Initial damage estimates put the cost of repairs at R10 million, but this could well change.

The South African Police Service is investigating the matter, as indications on scene were that the fire was started deliberately.

Staff members who arrived at work this morning were visibly distraught and traumatized. We will arrange for them to receive counselling and other staff support services, in line with the City’s Employee Wellness Programme.

This senseless act of destruction will have ripple effects far beyond the damaged brick and mortar and we condemn it in the strongest terms.

Ikhwezi is the biggest City Health facility, with on average 500 patients seen to per day.

The facility also has the biggest cohort of patients on Anti-Retroviral Treatment (5 238) and treats approximately 500 clients for Tuberculosis per year.

The clinic will be closed indefinitely, until repairs are completed.

In the interim, residents will have to make use of the Nomzamo Community Health Centre, which is the only facility in close proximity to Ikhwezi, which could affect continuity of care.

Despite the City of Cape Town’s attempts to reduce waiting times via the introduction of an appointment system, residents are now reliant on a single facility where there will be crowding and increased waiting times.

I visited the site earlier and am saddened by the malicious damage to public property.

Files, Chairs and essential medical equipment have all been destroyed by the fire.

I am deeply concerned about the plight of the community of Nomzamo who dearly need this facility.

My Directorate will work tirelessly to ensure that the community receives healthcare services to minimize the impact the closure of the clinic will have on all residents.

I urge residents and community leaders to come forward with any information they may have about what transpired in this incident.

It is an indictment on our society when community facilities are targeted with such ease and no regard for the hundreds of people who pass through the doors daily for life-saving treatment.

Sadly, until those responsible for the destruction of this and other community facilities are brought to book, this incident will not be the last of its kind.

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