Community clinic closed after being vandalised
The Wrenchville community clinic, situated about 5kms outside Kuruman in the Nothern Cape, has been badly vandalised by angry community members who stoned the facility and burnt down the community hall and library.
The damage was caused by some angry elements within the community, but now everyone is suffering the impact, as the clinic is now being housed within Kuruman Hospital – meaning those who use it now have to travel.
Wrenchville Clinic has been in operation for many years, and services the nearby areas such as Kagung and Promised Land. It has an estimated client intake of about 120 patients per day, and the clinic committee is said to be functional and active, addressing all matters of concern and suggestions they receive in a professional manner.
This government clinic is a primary health care facility providing HIV /AIDS, TB-related treatment as well as counselling and operates from 8am to 4pm during the week. The services are all free of charge.
The vandalism happened after the local municipality decided to stop the illegal occupation of land earmarked for the construction of the houses to cater for middle to high income earners in the near future.
Wrenchville Clinic was targeted in the protest action that resulted, and after stones were thrown at doors and windows of the facility it was shut down for safety reasons. The facility manager and staff were told to report instead to the district office while the clinic remained closed for their safety and that of their patients.
Now community members who need the clinic are have to travel to Kuruman Clinic which is situated inside the hospital yard in town. It is inconvenient and means that people who used to walk to Wrenchville Clinic now have to catch taxis to town – which involves transport costs.
Sam Witbooi (78) is a senior citizen collected chronic medicine from the clinic every month and now has to travel to Kuruman Clinic.
“Wrenchville Clinic was very close to my house and sometimes the facility manager would pre-pack my medicines so that when I got there I would just collect it after my vitals were taken. I am very disappointed by the actions of the angry or so-called ‘concerned groups’,” Witbooi said.
I am very disappointed by the actions of the angry or so-called ‘concerned groups’.
According to the Northern Cape NGO coalition’s Charmaine Van den Heever, the community protests started after the Municipality evicted the illegal land occupants without a court order first being issued.
Lack of housing
One of the protesters explained: “We don’t have houses, that is why we illegally placed ourselves there.”
The Northern Cape Department of Health has made provision for the Wrenchville Clinic to operate within the Kuruman Hospital premises, and share offices with the outpatient sites. This is where the clinic’s patient files were taken, and the arrangement is temporary.