The DA’s spokesperson for the health department Patricia Kopane says she found nothing wrong when she visited the Fort England and Tower Psychiatric Hospital in the Eastern Cape earlier on Monday and cast doubt on media reports sounding the alarm on their conditions.
She said Tower Psychiatric Hospital was clean and well maintained, with quality food in the kitchens. Staff at both facilities should be applauded for doing what they could with limited resources, she said.
Kopane questioned the veracity of a recent report carried by Rapport, which drew attention to dilapidated infrastructure, inadequate nutrition and inappropriate isolation of psychiatric patients at Tower Hospital.
The report also raised questions about the number of deaths recorded at the facility, quoting psychiatrist Kiran Sukeri, who alleged that documents had been altered to hide the true scale of fatalities.
The Eastern Cape health department has refuted claims of a cover-up; Sukeri has laid complaints with the health ombudsman, the SA Human Rights Commission and the SA Society of Psychiatrists.
Khaya Sodidi, the Eastern Cape provincial secretary of the Democratic Nursing Association of SA (Denosa), said its members had confirmed the poor conditions described by Sukeri and had been forced to work overtime to spruce up the Tower Hospital ahead of a supposedly surprise visit by the Eastern Cape’s health MEC Pumza Dyantyi last week. "Our members told us they had to work until 10pm before the unannounced visit," he said.