Avoid xenophobic undertones on topic of healthcare for foreigners

Vincent Cosa saving the boy who was stuck on a pipe above the raging Jukskei River, Johannesburg. Picture: Screenshot from the video

Vincent Cosa saving the boy who was stuck on a pipe above the raging Jukskei River, Johannesburg. Picture: Screenshot from the video

All we can do is ask the government and the public for a humane approach to the matter of healthcare to non-South African citizens.

Vincent Cosa is everything South Africa hopes for in a good citizen – a man who needed to step up when the situation required a man who is selfless, humane and with parental instincts.

The father of four from Mozambique is a man among men who rolled up his sleeves and came to the aid of a child in distress while dozens looked on, happy to be an audience.

At a time when South Africa is in discussion about the rights of foreigners living among us, the story of rescued child Mpilo Ngubane would have had a different ending had Cosa not been around to rescue him.

The argument is whether or not the state purse is under strain from foreigners accessing basic services.

On many occasions, I have witnessed people from different countries crossing the border into South Africa in order to consult with a medical doctor, after which they would simply head back home, medication in hand, and return only for a follow-up consultation.

So the idea that all foreign people in South Africa are an “unnecessary expense” is flawed.

If our economy and budget cannot afford free healthcare to non-South African citizens, then so be it.

But the voices that stand with this new policy worry me because I know non-South Africans who reside within our borders, who may or may not be able to afford healthcare.

All we can do is ask the government and the public for a humane approach to the matter.

Admittedly, not all foreigners are Vincent Cosas. But not all of them are Ernest Mabasos of the Vlakfontein murders.

There are two sides to a coin.

One can only hope that people understand that although the budget is under strain because the undocumented nationals are not put into consideration when it is formulated, one cannot count heads that have not declared their presence in the room.

The expectation that a sliding formula be used for payment at clinics is plausible, but I implore all South Africans to word their stance on the matter without the xenophobic undertones that we have become famous for.

Kekeletso Nakeli-Dhliwayo.

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