According to IOL, Gauteng’s health MEC Brian Hlongwa commandeered a venue at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital which had been booked months in advance by doctors planning a Christmas party for their sick kiddies patients from the HIV perinatal ward. Why? So that his royal highness could launch a vaccine.
Reporters from The Star quote doctors as saying:
“We were quite taken aback because we had booked the place and our preparations were on track. And of course we had told all the patients and their parents about the party – we couldn’t just cancel.”
The article continues:
The doctor said they were then told they could still have their party – but at 10am.
“So that’s what we told all our children. And they all arrived at 10am sharp, but nearly three hours later the MEC was still busy. All our guests had to sit outside in the hot sun and wait for them to finish.”
When the guests started to become impatient, the doctors confronted the government officials and an argument ensued.
“We just wanted to start our party. The kids were sitting on a field. They called us racists. How can we be racist when we’ve worked so hard getting sponsors and organising a party for 1 000 children? Most of them had probably never had a party,” said the doctor.
Fortunately – after three hours of waiting – the kids were eventually able to have the party (but without a Christmas tree or decorations).
The provincial minister’s behaviour is truly disgusting: another display of his overweening arrogance and the contempt he seems to have for the sick. It wouldn’t have been difficult to find another venue for the vaccine launch. The likes of Hlongwa need to realise that the people they serve come first.
• Read about Hlongwa’s extravagant R1 million renovations to his boardroom (and Baragwanath’s infrastructure challenges) here.