Speaking during the Gauteng Provincial Command Council briefing on Thursday, Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku apologised for how he responded to being told about overcrowding at the maternity ward at Mamelodi Hospital.
This comes after backlash to statements he made during an exclusive eNCA insert on the matter, which aired on Thursday morning.
A concerned family member of a woman stuck in the ward, which has reportedly been nicknamed Marikana, submitted footage to the news channel of pregnant women and women who have just been given birth laying on mattresses covering the floor with barely any space between them.
“They call it Marikana because they can put, plus-minus 40 women in one room and its only four beds and on the floor its mattresses,” said one of the women currently recovering in the ward after recently having given birth.
She expressed her fears of contracting the coronavirus under the conditions in the ward and transmitting it to her five-day-old son.
eNCA journalist Zikhona Tshona had to admonish Masuku on air after he alleged that the video might be false before asking why the person who originally reported was still at the hospital.
“What is she there for? Is she supposed to be there?” asked Masuku.
“She just gave birth,” replied Tshona before Masuku retorted: “Then she is supposed to go home and stop taking videos.”
“You can’t say she must stop taking videos,” replied Tshona.
“This incident is pretty much regrettable and how the whole conversation got out of hand. I would like, firstly as an MEC, to say, on behalf of myself and most probably my family, I would like to express my heartfelt and sincere apologies to the patient/complainant and all South Africans on the way in which I responded,” said Masuku as he read from a statement.
He went on to say his response showed a lack of empathy and a level of irritation and added that a leader should know better than to do what he did.
Masuku added that he had concerns about the allegations being fake news and said that his department needed to verify the claims before taking action, as Gauteng health has reportedly been subjected to a lot of fake news allegations.
Watch the MEC’s apology below: