Piles of dirty hospital linen and clothing has been found dumped near an informal settlement in Komani by residents who suspect that it was used by patients who may have had Covid-19.
The residents claim that after their gruesome find over the weekend, they later alerted health officials about this, saying it was causing a health hazard for their community.
On investigation, it turned out that the linen was from the Komani Psychiatric hospital and was found dumped in the open, not far from an informal settlement.
Some of the discarded clothing and linen found had Komani Hospital’s name written on them.
The provincial health department on Sunday promised to launch an investigation to determine how such laundry ended up on the streets.
Departmental spokesperson Siyanda Manana on Sunday said, “There has been no disposal of linen at the (Komani) hospital.”
He said the department has however sent an official to go to the site, gather information, and report back to the department.
“The hospital is investigating how it’s linen ended up where it ended.
“Investigation has been launched by the department to establish how the linen ended up at the site. In that hospital there have not been more than 10 people that had Covid-19.
“The linen was washed by a private service provider. There has not been anything that suggests anything had gone missing,” he said.
A staff member from the hospital who wanted to remain anonymous said some of the clothes were new and were used only once or twice by their patients.
“This is hazardous as these are clothes that were used by mental patients. You would not know if some of the patients who were wearing these clothes had been affected by Covid-19,” said the employee who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of victimisation.
The employee said they heard that some homeless people had started to collect the clothes to wear.
“The management of this hospital should answer for this. Even if the clothes were not suitable to be used again, there are other ways of destroying them, instead of throwing them into the street. Now we hear that residents, mostly those who are homeless, have started to use them.”
Asked if this was not a work of a service provider, the staff member said despite that, the hospital should be managing its linen properly.
“People sent me these pictures and when I looked at them, it was the Komani hospital. Even if a service provider did this, the hospital senior managers should know where these clothes were going and also check if they’ve arrived at their destination.”
The employee said they had a “world class” laundry at the hospital but it was not used as the hospital was using external service providers to wash patient clothes and linen.
“We also hear that some clothes have been burnt instead of being washed. This is a waste of government money. Officials should be managing this.”
Nehawu’s Komani regional secretary, Sibusiso Kemte, said he had heard about the dumped linen through the “grapevine” and his organisation was conducting an investigation into it.
“For now, we are still investigating to find out what exactly happened, and until we get the real facts, we cannot comment.
“This is something we’ve heard and our team is working on it to establish facts around it,” said Kemte.