Patients at historical KZN hospital tormented by leaking roof

Celani Sikhakhane

For more than a year, a leaky roof at the KwaMagwaza District Hospital in rural KwaZulu-Natal has forced freezing patients to sleep in soaking wet beds.

The cold and unhygienic conditions at the hospital in Melmoth has even led to patients falling into a worse condition than when they were admitted.

Sources within the hospital have told Scrolla.Africa the leaks have been ongoing for well over a year, and got severely worse when the province was hit by devastating floods last month.

The sources say that on rainy days the leaks have prevented staff being able to look after the patients.

“This is a crisis and the authorities are aware of this situation. It has been there for a very long time,” the source said, adding that people have become too afraid to admit themselves to hospital, as they know a cold and wet bed lies in wait for them.

“It is a shame and patients want to go back home because when it’s raining it becomes difficult for everyone including nurses.”

KZN Department of Health spokesperson Ntokozo Maphisa said that the department is aware of the situation.

“We are aware of the problem of the leaking roof. The Department is addressing the issue and the contractor has been appointed to fix the roof,” said Maphisa.

As well as the leaking roof, KwaMagwaza hospital is among many in the province which lack proper roads leading to it.

As well as this making it difficult for patients to reach the hospital, this lack of infrastructure has forced doctors to seek work in urban areas.

The hospital has a long and rich history. It was built in 1860 when Mpande kaSenzangakhona donated land to missionaries in the Zulu Kingdom.

Missionaries in KwaNzimela ran the hospital for 140 years before it was taken over by the Department of Health in 2000 and turned into a district hospital.