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31/10/2017: Extended Hours: Princess Clinic provide healthcare to 24 000 residents

I would like to start by thanking the South African Human Rights Commission for the professional manner in which they have approached this matter.

It is because of their willingness to deal with all parties in good faith and to create an environment for us to engage one another in the spirit of understanding and reconciliation, which has allowed us to reach this important moment.

This mediation process has given me an opportunity to clarify my position on the issue of migration within the City of Joburg, rather than people relying on sound bites and headlines that are unfortunately the result of selective coverage of my statements.

I have stated on many occasions that my comments have been misinterpreted without taking into account any background to the very real challenges I am attempting to address. This has created significant confusion and sensationalism around this issue.

From the outset, I would like to state that I condemn xenophobia in all its manifestations, and I will ensure that those who intend perpetuating violence against immigrants, face the full might of the law.

At the same time, I am committed to ensuring that the rule of law is upheld in our city, and that no criminal, whether from South Africa or any other country, feels safe on our streets.

I am committed to ensuring that Johannesburg becomes a safer place for all residents to live, work, and play.

I welcome foreign nationals into our city and country. All I have asked is that those who visit, do so lawfully, and while they are here, they respect our laws.

I would love every citizen of the world to visit our city and invest in growing our economy and creating jobs for our people.

Foreign nationals buy goods in our country, establish businesses, and stimulate economic growth. They can also contribute their skills and experience in sectors of our economy where it is desperately needed. This is key to my vision of creating a more prosperous and inclusive city.

Indeed, in its 130 year history, Johannesburg has been built by migrants from across our country and the world. This is a tradition I wish to see continued.

It is without doubt that the challenge of illegal immigration in Johannesburg has reached crisis level.

The issue of migration is one that cannot be dealt with at municipal level comprehensively, instead it requires the willing participation of the national government.

The Department of Home Affairs has a constitutional obligation to address the issue of undocumented migrants. So far, the Department’s conduct on this matter has been dismal.

In the recent Supreme Court of Appeal judgment in the matter of Scalabrini Centre, Cape Town v The Minister of Home Affairs, the SCA stated:

“As regards the decrease in the number of asylum seekers and the alleged improved efficiency in dealing with asylum applications, the Department overlooks the fact that according to its own records as at May 2015, there was a backlog of some 100 000 files which had not yet been decided by a refugee status determination officer; and a backlog of more than 100 000 cases which had not been decided by the Refugee Appeal Board. Save for a bald allegation that they are being addressed, the answering affidavit is silent on any progress made with these backlogs or whether they have increased since May 2015. Apart from this, the alleged improved efficiency is questionable.”

It is evident that the Department is failing in its responsibility to ensure that people entering our country are processed and timeously provided with relevant documentation.

Furthermore, allegations of corruption and bribery in the provision of papers is aggravating this crisis. I am sure that there are tens of thousands of additional foreign migrants who do not even bother applying, given the apparent collapse of the system.

For more than a year, and three Ministers later, I have continuously attempted to engage the Department on this matter, in the interests of the City and its residents.

As you are aware, I met with the former Minister, Malusi Gigaba in early December 2016. At a press conference he called following that meeting, he publicly committed to working together to find solutions to the serious challenges faced in the City.

However, all efforts I have made subsequent to that meeting have been to no avail, and my numerous letters to the ministers have gone unanswered.

This brings into question whether the meeting and press conference called by the former Minister was merely political grandstanding.

I have now instructed the City’s legal team to investigate all legal options available to the City to compel the Department of Home Affairs to address the issue of illegal immigration in the City of Johannesburg.

Due to the importance of this case, the City of Joburg will be engaging the services of top flight Constitutional experts, led by Advocate Dali Mpofu and Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi. I expect papers to be filed in court in the coming weeks.

I would also like to welcome the African Diaspora Forum’s commitment to join this matter as friends of the court. This mediation process has given us the opportunity to recognise that we actually have a great deal in common when it comes to what we are trying to achieve.

Let me make one thing clear – I am not calling for undocumented migrants to be immediately deported.

When I first visited Princess in July 2016, I knew that I had come to a community that was off the radar as far as the ANC was concerned.
Nobody cared about this community in need.

However, I knew that if the DA led the City of Johannesburg, the people of Princess would finally receive much needed assistance.

Following the elections of 3 August 2016, this administration promised to finally bring change and hope to our poorest communities.

The DA-led administration in Johannesburg has carved out a strategy that no longer places our poor and vulnerable on the fringes of society.

We have placed communities like Princess at the centre of our agenda.

One year ago, the Department of Health and Social Development implemented extended operating hours at the Princess Clinic after I witnessed how the people of this community struggled to gain access to healthcare.

Today, I am here to celebrate the work which has been done at this facility so far.

The Princess Clinic pilot project entailed extending service hours from the normal eight hours to 15 hours per day – Monday to Friday, and Saturday’s service hours from 07h00 to 13h00, which added a further 5.5 hours.

Since beginning extended hours at the clinic, we have been able to provide healthcare to over 7000 more people at the clinic.

All in all, Princess Clinic has been able to provide healthcare to close to 24 000 residents in the area.
These are people who would have been forced between choosing to give up work and their health; 
Choose between finding a job and getting access to healthcare; Taking time off studies and accessing healthcare.

By having this clinic operate for extended hours, I hope we have made a real difference in people’s lives.
Ladies and gentlemen, addressing healthcare challenges, particularly for poor communities’ requires multiple strategies.

We also have to attend to a community’s environmental health to ensure our residents’ continued wellbeing.

Our Environmental Health Services is at the forefront of protecting the City’s environment and safeguarding the public from contracting communicable diseases from food, water, and other environmental factors.

In this respect, we have initiated a number of programmes to ensure that we improve the lives of residents, by:

• ensuring all formal and informal food premises within the ward are inspected; compliance with environmental health legislation in area is currently in the region of 86%.
• All Early Childhood Development facilities within the area have also been inspected for environmental health concerns.
• Our pest control services conducted 2827 house to house surveys to determine the area’s exposure to the infestation of rodents and other pests. 
Rodent cages were placed at strategic places to catch and eliminate these pests. 
976 rodent burrows were also destroyed in the process.
• Pikitup is also assisting by cleaning the community and disposing of refuse within the areas. This is in line with our community responsibility to provide more cleaning services, particularly in informal communities.

We have also commenced an education drive to teach residents about the dangers of illegal dumping and the importance of rodent control.
The City’s Department of Social Development has also been identified as another strategic stakeholder in the approach to providing integrated healthcare to this community.

As part of our approach, a social worker was employed to render social development services and to ensure linkages with internal and external stakeholders for referral purposes.

The social worker’s operational hours have been set from 11h00 to 19h00, to improve access for the working customers.

Soon after the introduction of a social worker, it was quickly established that SASSA services are the main services sought after by the Princess community, mainly the form of Child Social Grant, the Disability Grant, and the Old Age Pension.

Additionally, there were quite a few families who required assistance in the form of food parcels or food vouchers. These have been provided.

Ladies and gentlemen, many of our communities are feeling the pain caused by substance abuse. It is a social problem affecting both rich and poor across the city.

Sadly, our children are the greatest victims falling into the hands of unscrupulous drug dealers who peddle misery and addiction.

It is my pleasure to announce that the City’s Health Department is rolling out its free Local Drug Action Committee programmes and at clinics across Joburg.

We intend to ensure that in those communities where substance abuse is rife, especially in poor communities, rehabilitation is accessible at no cost.

The first such clinic opened its doors last month, and we are determined to ensure that our vulnerable people are able to access these clinics and programmes.
The Princess Clinic Pilot project has helped the City of Johannesburg to be a responsive government, and we realise that in addition to health needs, our communities still have other pressing needs.

Ladies and gentlemen, the DA-led City of Johannesburg are intent on providing housing and infrastructure to communities that have been ignored by the ANC.

The City is in consultation with private investors and businessmen in our bid to turn Johannesburg into a building site, so that our residents get jobs and that they can live in housing that the City is going to provide in public private partnerships.

The illegal occupation of Council-owned land adds a burden to the environment since the illegal properties are not serviced and as such they add to the pollution and degradation of the environment.
We are looking at ways of providing innovative solutions to dealing with this.

We want Princess residents to rest assured that the DA-led City of Johannesburg will continue to provide good quality health care, which is their basic right of all residents.

I thank you.

Cllr Herman Mashaba
Executive Mayor

Media enquiries: 
Karabo Tledima
Media Specialist
Office of the Executive Mayor
061 794 3819