Dozens of patients hoping to get medical attention were turned away from Ikhwezi Clinic in Nomzamo township in Strand, Cape Town after it was burnt during the night. According to a Groundup report, it appears to have been deliberately torched. The remains of petrol bombs could be seen in some of the rooms. Strand has been the location of housing protests over the past few weeks.
Nkululeko Swaartbooi said he was meant to see a nurse at the facility. “I have been sick for a long time and the doctors could not tell what I was suffering from.” He was expecting to have blood drawn for tests to be done, but this was impossible following the fire. “The nurse said my folder also burnt and they cannot send me to the other clinic. If I die, the people who burnt it will bury me.”
The report says on Friday of last week there was a strong smell of chemicals. Inside, the pharmacy was totally gutted. The TB and HIV area was also affected. The office where records were kept was consumed by the fire.
According to Mayco member for health Zahid Badroodien, the clinic saw about 500 people daily, and is City of Cape Town Health’s largest facility. (There are larger clinics in Cape Town, but they are run by the provincial government, not the City.) “The facility also has the biggest cohort of patients on antiretroviral treatment (5,238),” according to Badroodien.
The report says the City of Cape Town is offering a reward of R50,000 to anyone who has information that could lead to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the fire. The damage to the facility is currently estimated to be R10m.
The report says last month, shops were ransacked and looted when protests for land turned violent. Most of the businesses which were affected have not recovered. But Moleleki Fulumane, a land occupier, said the torching of the clinic had nothing to do with the occupiers. “We are against the destruction of property and we are only occupying the land. We will work with the police to find those responsible for this.”
Fire and Rescue Service said they responded to the fire at approximately 2:30am on Friday morning and extinguished it just after 4am.Groundup report