Today, my colleague, Dr Imran Keeka MPL, and I have been prevented from laying charges of culpable homicide against the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Health MEC, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, for their apparent role in the deaths of more than 300 cancer patients in the province.
The officers on duty did everything in their power to delay and frustrate our efforts to lay these charges. After three hours of back and forth, it became apparent that the SAPS would only accept an inquiry into the matter and would not accept the DA laying charges.
The police are supposed to take charges and investigate them, not decide who can lay them.
In terms of Section 205 (3) of the Constitution, the “object of the SAPS is to prevent, combat and investigate crime…”. The SAPS cannot arbitrarily refuse to do their job. This constitutes a gross dereliction of duty. In addition, section 98 of the Criminal Procedures Act states that “it shall be sufficient in a charge of culpable homicide to allege that the accused unlawfully killed the deceased”.
The DA has a credible case that must be investigated. The assertion that we simply cannot lay charges because we are not in possession of the names of all those who died, is simply absurd.
Our affidavit clearly has some of the names of the victims and moreover, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), a Chapter Nine institution, has found that both the national and the provincial health departments failed to provide cancer patients in the province with access to proper oncology services.
The report states that this apparent negligence was a violation of “the rights to human dignity and life of the affected patients” as they “failed to take reasonable measures to progressively realise the right to have access to health care services in the KZN province”.
The truth is that the Minister and the MEC’s seeming negligence was nothing less than a death sentence for cancer patients who had no other alternative but the unnecessarily limited and appalling public health services available to them.
Despite the DA’s repeated calls for MEC Dhlomo to be removed from his position, the Minister and local officials have continued to protect him.
And now the very people who are at the front line of protecting South Africans have fundamentally failed the 300 cancer patients who died by purposefully refusing to do their duty and accept the laying of charges.
The DA will not stand by and watch as the failing ANC continues to put the needs of their cadres before the needs of the people. It is unacceptable, and frankly unethical, to play political games with the lives of sick and vulnerable citizens.
The DA will not be deterred from laying these charges. Both the Minister and the MEC must be held accountable for failing to protect South African citizens who have no other choice but to rely on the failing public health system.