Medical waste flowing into Letaba River - DA

Party to report matter to Human Rights Commission

Medical waste from Letaba Hospital flowing into Letaba River, DA to report matter to Human Rights Commission

13 March 2018

Following an oversight visit to the Letaba Hospital in Tzaneen yesterday, where medical waste from the hospital is flowing directly into the Letaba River, the DA will report the matter to the South African Human rights Commission (SAHRC) to request an urgent investigation.

The DA found human excretion, blood, toxic waste and other dangerous medical waste spewing from the hospital directly into the Letaba River. This is due to the pump station, which is supposed to pump toxic waste to a purifying plant, not being operational for over six months.

The DA has already filed a complaint with the Environmental Management Inspectorate, better known as the Blue Scorpions, under the Department of Environmental Affairs to probe this hospital for neglecting this plant for over six months that pose hazardous health risks to the residents.

The reason for the inactive pump station is allegedly the result of Eskom removing the breakers for the pump station last year, rendering it useless. This is apparently due to the excessive debts owed to Eskom by the Mopani District Municipality.

The hospital, which is supposed to provide health services to the community, is now putting thousands of lives in the area at risk and it would appear that little has been done to fix the situation.

Not only are lives put at risk, but the entire ecology of the river system is in jeopardy. The stench from the river due to the waste is unbearable. Surgical gloves, bandages and a countless other waste litters the river.

Less than 200 meters down the river from the hospital, people were bathing and further down a water truck was found pumping water out of the river, possibly to sell to people in the area.

The DA is currently exploring its options to hold those responsible for the toxic waste in the river, accountable. We will not sit by and allow the lives of vulnerable communities to be put at risk due to the mismanagement and carelessness.

Issued by Lindy Wilson, DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Health, 13 March 2018