_: South Africa has done well to improve the quality of life for most women but the benefits of democracy have remained elusive for many other women, says Public Protector Adv Thuli Madonsela.
The Public Protector was speaking to communities of Ulundi and neighbouring areas in KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday during an event organised by her office to commemorate Women’s Month.
She said nothing had improved for some women, primarily because the democratic government required a lot of resources to undo the damage done by colonialism and apartheid.
“We also believe that our progress has been slowed down by maladministration,” the Public Protector said, adding that efforts should be made to uproot bad administration, with a view to accelerating the pace of service delivery.
The Public Protector started the day with a surprise visit to Nkonjeni District Hospital, describing it as the worst of all health care facilities in terms of resources when compared with other facilities in the six provinces she has already been to.
The facility is experiencing extreme resource constraints, from medical professionals to important equipment and funds. The building is also old and needs urgent refurbishments.
At the Women’s Day event, a woman alleged that she had been a victim of a botched operation at the hospital last October. She also accused the doctor that treated her of being rude.
The teary woman said she had given birth through caesarian section but the doctor in question failed to stitch her up properly, resulting in the wound getting septic and reopening.
Other concerns included a community that complained about leopards and other wild animals that terrorise their livestock and attack community members. A victim of such an attack approached the Public Protector at the end of the event to show her his hapless left arm and badly savaged right hand as a result of an encounter with a leopard.
Another community member complained about irregularities in the apportioning and management of a farm given back to the community as an outcome of a successful land claim, while another alleged shenanigans in a SASSA-run witness protection programme.
Many submitted complaints regarding difficulties in obtaining birth certificates, IDs and SASSA grants. An agreement was reached that the province would bring a multi-agency service clinic to the area in the coming weeks to primarily address ID and grant complaints.
More service delivery grievances concerning electricity and water supply, and construction of roads were also raised with the Public Protector. Lack of electricity was linked to the alleged prevalence of rapes in the area.
Issues were also raised about the plight of families that lost their homes as a result of natural disasters. In response to complaints by two women who lost their homes through fire and rains, Zululand Mayor, Zanele Magwaza-Msibi, offered to build a house for one of the women through her foundation. Ulundi Municipality’s response was that its disaster management policy did not recognise disasters affecting single families. Mayor Johanna Manana nonetheless offered R10 000 on the spot from the municipality to help the families patch up.
The Public Protector told the community that her office would follow up on all commitments made and investigate the more complex cases. She is on Friday concluding her visit in KwaZulu-Natal with an engagement with the community of Esikhawini, near Richards Bay. Preceded by a surprise visit to Engwelezane Hospital, the meeting will be held at Hlanganani Hall at 10h00.