The Eastern Cape health department says its preliminary investigation into piles of laundry dumped in Komani at the weekend points to a service provider whose contract ended in 2019.
Some of the linen carried the name of the Komani Psychiatric Hospital.
Residents of an informal settlement near the dumpsite feared the dirty linen, as well as some clothing, may have been used by patients who had been diagnosed with Covid-19, but Eastern Cape health spokesperson Siyanda Manana said this was not the case.
“At this point there should not be a concern from the community. “We can categorically say that linen was not used by people who were Covid-19 positive,” Manana said.
Though Manana did not name the service provider in question, he said the department’s preliminary investigation had showed it was to blame.
Manana said the matter has been referred to the department’s legal team for advice before any further decision.
He said the service provider’s contract ended in February 2019. It had first been awarded in 2012.
Manana said: “According to us they [the service provider] were supposed to return hospital equipment. Those items still belonged to the department. “They had no right to dispose of them [because] we have a committee that sits and decides what to dispose of, not them.”
A staff member from the hospital, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, said some of the items were new and had only been used once or twice. The employee said some homeless people had started to collect the dumped clothing to wear.
Eram Sarah Nsom, owner of OTJ Laundries, told the Dispatch she had been contacted about the dumping but denied her company was responsible.
“It is not true that those belonged to my company,” she said.
Nsom said she had received a call from the hospital’s management telling them they found the linen, but she told them her company was not responsible.
“I don’t understand what this is all about. What evidence do they have that suggests that?”
The Dispatch informed her there was allegedly documentation belonging to her company that linked it to the dumped linen.
She responded: “Why would I leave documents there if I dumped the linen there? That does not sound right.”
The Dispatch’s sister newspaper in Komani, The Rep, reported in 2019 that Komani Hospital patients’ clothing and linen had been left outside for months at OTJ Laundry Services in Woodhouse Street, Sandringham.
Nehawu regional secretary Sibusiso Kemte said even though the service provider was being blamed, the officials responsible for supply chain management and logistics should take responsibility.
“People get positions in high places but they don’t know how to execute their duties,” Kemte said.