Cecilia Makiwane Hospital cable thieves apprehended

Cecilia Makiwane Hospital in Mdantsane, East London.

Men have been apprehended by the Mdantsane Forum on suspicion of stealing and vandalizing electrical cables at Cecilia Makiwane Hospital. The two men were apprehended by the community on Thursday night before being turned over to the police. On Tuesday, January 17, the men vandalized and stole electricity cables at the hospital, disrupting services and leaving the Mdantsane hospital in the dark.

The suspects were injured during the process, and they were treated at the same hospital where they are accused of stealing. The MEC for Health in the Eastern Cape, Nomakhosazana Meth welcomed their arrest. “This is what active citizenry looks like, so we are happy that the Mdantsane community took a stand and apprehended the alleged criminals. We applaud them for being patriots. However, we caution people against taking the law into their own hands,” said Meth.

She stated that they now hope that the police will build a solid case against the suspects and assist the state in proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the men were indeed responsible for the vandalism and theft of electricity cables at the hospital.

She went on to say that vandalizing and stealing hospital electricity cables is equivalent to premeditated murder because we deal with life and death situations.

The hospital’s power cables were vandalized, and other cables were stolen. Although the generators on site are operational, the lack of cables meant that the electricity generated by the generators could not be distributed throughout the hospital.

According to preliminary reports, the perpetrators dug a hole beneath the fence to gain access to the facility.

As a temporary arrangement, the department diverted some patients to Frere Hospital, assigned two clinical managers from Cecilia Makiwane Hospital to work at Frere to help with the workload, and moved 15 corpses to Mdantsane forensic for safe storage.

Generators have reportedly been activated to keep services running. The kitchen is currently running on gas. The municipality is said to have promised to prioritize cable repair.

The department revealed that the vandalism and cable theft at Cecilia Makiwane Hospital is the latest in a series of incidents in which criminals target health facilities.

Criminals stole municipal electrical cables in Dordrecht, causing services at Dordrecht Hospital to be disrupted overnight, according to the department.

The Provincial Spokesperson for the Eastern Cape Department of Health, Yonela Dekeda said, “Fort Beaufort Hospital has also fallen prey to thugs as copper pipes from water piping in the theatre ablution were stolen this week. The Marjorie Parrish TB Hospital in Port Alfred is currently dependent on its generator, after electrical cables were stolen, recently. The department is busy with the process of having the repairs work being undertaken.”

According to Dekeda, there have been 120 burglaries at Nelson Mandela Bay health facilities in the last 18 months. Criminals in Nelson Mandela Bay appear to be targeting air conditioners, which disrupts services because vaccines must be moved to other facilities when this occurs.

“In the latest incidents, air conditioners have been stolen at Algoa Park Clinic and the clinic in Central, Gqeberha. Staff at KwaDwesi Clinic and Tshangana Clinic have also been robbed at gunpoint in recent weeks.

“There was also a burglary at the Gqeberha Lilitha Nursing College recreational hall where 13 electrical plugs and switches were stripped and vandalised. Wiring of the sound system and wiring from toilets to passages were also stolen. This happened on January 4. Cases were reported to the police in all cases.

“There were also two incidents of cable theft at Empilweni Hospital last year which affected both electricity supply to the hospital and telephone lines. Thugs also cut the fence at Dr Malizo Mpehle Hospital in Tsolo and stole equipment and a microwave in August.

“We applaud the police and courts for their diligent work as the culprits have been sentenced for 6 months. The stolen property was also recovered. There was also a break-in at St Lucy’s Provincial Hospital in Tsolo in December. Criminals gained entry by cutting the fence,” said Dekeda.

MEC Meth has urged the SAPS to continue prioritizing cases involving health care facilities and workers.

To strengthen security systems and improve safety at health facilities, the department is collaborating with government departments such as Justice, Community Safety and Policing Cluster, and the Clinton Health Access Initiative.