Nurses and doctors at the Mofumahadi Manapo-Mopeli hospital are allegedly trapped inside the hospital building due to ongoing protests over water shortages in QwaQwa in the Free State.
Frustrated locals took to the streets of Phuthaditjhaba on Monday following the tragic death of eight-year-old Mosa Mbele, who drowned on Saturday while fetching water from a local river.
Protesters barricaded roads and set tyres on fire in an effort to render the area ungovernable until their demand for an end to chronic water shortages had been met.
Police made several arrests on Monday after firing rubber bullets to disperse residents and the situation appeared to have intensified on Tuesday with locals determined to have their demand for reliable water supply met.
The hospital was one of the key areas locals had targeted in an effort to drive a point home, said African Transformation Movement spokesperson Mxolisi Makhubu. The protesters have demanded a state of emergency be declared over the water crisis in QwaQwa and have called for President Cyril Ramaphosa to address their concerns.
Locals, who have called for the current mayor to step down, planned to bring the hospital as well as other parts of the area to a standstill and have vowed to take further drastic action if authorities fail to address their demands.
Makhubu said ATM supported the struggle and demands of the people of QwaQwa.
“Over the past four years, the people of Phuthditjhaba have consistently been subjected to inhumane living conditions and their basic rights trampled upon by an uncaring government of the ANC. The ANC government has clearly abandoned the project of restoring the dignity of the people of the Maluti-A-Phofung local municipality and opted for self-enrichment and the elevation of narrow party political squabbles over the needs of the people.”
Free State Corporative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Thembeni Nxangisa, speaking on SAfm, said the situation was terrible.
“We need leaders of the protest to come forward.
“We spoke to one group from protesters out of two. We met with the first group and have yet to meet with the second group of protesters.
“It is unthinkable that nurses must struggle and people must die in hospital. I agree we could have done better.”
He said the Fika Patso Dam, which supplied water to the municipality, had run dry due to low rainfall.
“The intervention we are making is we are trying to find a way to connect the [local] dams and alleviate the dependency of communities on the Fika Patso Dam.”
While the MEC said the municipality had dug boreholes for the two hospitals in QwaQwa, a caller stated their area was left without water since before Christmas.
Nxangisa called for dialogue and for locals to allow emergency services to operate.
Meanwhile, a video of patients from the Mofumahadi Manapo-Mopeli hospital fetching water themselves has surfaced showing the patients in hospital attire carrying bottles of water into the hospital. It is understood that there is a shortage of staff due to the total shutdown. The exact day the footage was taken remains unknown.