As the country continues to tackle various cases of rape, Gauteng is witnessing it from another angle as patients are been raped in health facilities thus putting a spotlight on safety in public hospitals in the province

At least three patients were allegedly raped at Gauteng health-care centres in the last few weeks. In two cases, it is believed that mental health patients were raped by other patients.

At Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital, a 22 year old man is alleged to have raped a 15-year-old boy on September 27. Both were being treated at the hospital for mental health issues.

The other incident allegedly happened at Tara Psychiatric Hospital. It is alleged that a 15-year-old girl, who is an outpatient, was raped by another patient on September 16.

The Health Department couldn’t confirm the case yesterday, but DA’s Jack Bloom said “This involved a 15-year-old female outpatient who came with her parents for therapy and was allegedly raped by another patient when she went out for fresh air.”

He accused the department of trying to hide the incident.

Another recent rape incident happened at Stanza Bopape Community Health Centre, Pretoria, last week. It is alleged that a male nurse raped a male patient. The nurse was suspended and criminal charges laid against him.

Kwara Kekana, Health Department spokesperson said the Charlotte Maxeke and the Stanza Bopape incidents had been reported to the police and the victims offered counselling.

Bloom said the recent attacks showed that the department was lax in keeping patients and staff safe at its facilities. He said “These incidents raise questions yet again about the adequacy of security at Gauteng public health facilities, especially for mental health patients. It is inexcusable that hospital security contracts that were irregularly awarded in 2014 for a two-year period have been extended month-by-month for four years at a cost of more than R2.5 billion.

He added that “New security contracts need to be awarded as soon as possible to competent security companies that better protect patients and staff from all forms of violence at our public hospitals”.

Earlier this year, a 2 year old was raped at the Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital in Tshwane while in isolation for Covid-19.

But it is not only patients who are unsafe at health-care facilities. Statistics from 2017 show over a 100 nurses were attacked in hospitals across Gauteng by patients or their families.

The Democratic Nurses Organisation of SA’s Gauteng chairperson, Simphiwe Gada, said safety in hospitals was a national problem: “This is a long battle we have been having with the department.

“There is Phola Park clinic in Ekurhuleni where there were attacks on staff all the time. We took a decision to only operate until 4pm but this has an impact on the type of health care that a community receives.

“There was an intern doctor who was nearly raped by a patient at Pelonomi Hospital in the Free State last year. It is an ongoing battle and every time we raise an issue, the department complies for a month or two and then stops. We need to speak about safety in hospitals.”

The SA Medical Association’s chairperson, Dr Angelique Coetzee, said attacks on staff and patients should not be happening in health-care facilities.

“This should not happen. It is unacceptable. There need to be more strict security measures. We said it when Dr [Abdulhay] Munshi was killed and we say it now, staff and patients need to be safe at hospitals.”

Munshi was shot and killed last month in Orange Grove. He was one of the two doctors blamed for the death of a 10-year-old patient after surgery. Munshi and Professor Peter Beale were charged with culpable homicide.

The patient, Zayaan Sayed, died at Netcare’s Park Lane Clinic last October in what was supposed to be a routine laparoscopic operation to stop reflux.

Coetzee said the national government had set up a safety committee to deal with the attacks but this was disrupted by Covid-19. “We have not been able to meet because of Covid-19. “Hopefully, now the stakeholders can meet and we can come up with solutions.”