The community of Mmakaunyana in Moretele municipality cannot access their much-needed local clinic after Eskom cut the electricity over unpaid bills.

The clinic, which serves over 20,000 people, has been without power since 24 August. Patients who rely on the clinic for their TB, HIV and diabetes treatment risk defaulting on their chronic medication.

The clinic owes R11,000 said councillor Shangy Mbekwa.

“It is a desperate situation. Poor, innocent people now have to suffer because someone failed to do their job. We need urgent attention to resolve the situation,” said Mbekwa.

The clinic’s back-up generator is also not working. The facility uses borehole water because there is no bulk water supply in the area. Residents have to travel more than 20 kilometres to the nearest clinic, across the provincial border in Gauteng.

Residents left in limbo

For seven days in a row, Nomsa Radebe, 34, went to the clinic, hoping to collect her grandmother’s medication. She says she is worried about her grandmother, who is also the family breadwinner.

“We’re not working and for us to get to another clinic takes money, which we don’t have,” says Radebe.

Another resident Sipho Hadebe came to the clinic for cold and flu medication. With the coronavirus pandemic, having a fever has been stressful, he says.

“I have been coming here for three days now and they just make us stand outside in the cold and then around 12 the nurses just go home,” says the 24-year-old.

North West health spokesperson Tebogo Lekgetwane said they are trying to resolve the matter with the power supplier.

“The problem is late invoices from Eskom and we will develop an SOP for paying bills,” says Lekgetwane.

Lekgetwane said that when there is no electricity at a clinic, healthcare workers should take the medication to the nearest health facility with working refrigerators. – Health-e News