Democratic Alliance (Cape Town)

30 November 2012

South Africa: Red Cross Bound to Secrecy On MEC Dhlomo

press release

The Red Cross Air Mercy Services cannot reveal any information about the use of a medical helicopter by KZN Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo.

The Democratic Alliance met with CEO Phillip Erasmus this week.

We were informed of a secrecy clause preventing the Red Cross from releasing information about Dhlomo's flight on 3 November.

The 700km round-trip flight left people in Ethekwini Metro with real medical emergencies without an airlift.

Treasury's contract (ref. RT79-2012CP) forces the Red Cross to adhere to the "complete sole use and authority" (s. 13e) of the KZN Health Department.

It also binds the Red Cross to keeping "all information ... confidential or top secret" (s. 19d).

The Red Cross claims no complicity in MEC Dhlomo's use of Durban's only medical helicopter.

The order instructing the Red Cross to dispatch MEC Dhlomo to a funeral in Hlabisa came from KZN Emergency Medical Rescue Services (EMRS).

EMRS Chief Director NW Sithole and Operations Manager Muzi Mabaso are the only two people who can disclose what happened on that day, the Red Cross has informed us.

The DA has written to KZN Health Head Dr Sibongile Zungu. We have requested Dr Zungu to have EMRS release details of the call made to dispatch the helicopter to Hlabisa. We have allowed the Department three working days to release the information given the urgency of this matter.

The number of medical emergencies reported in Ethekwini metro on November 3rd must also be released.

Mr Dhlomo should be fired. There must be accountability in government.

Mr Dhlomo used Durban's only medical helicopter for the wrong reasons. People with real medical emergencies needed the helicopter. He simply cannot continue as an MEC.

Patricia Kopane, Shadow Minister of Health

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