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Nkandla clinic crucial to help ‘sick nation’ – SANDF

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Shopprice S.Africa

Nkandla – A clinic built for the Nkandla community, located within President Jacob Zuma‘s private residence, has not been in operation for years because it remains the subject of an investigation.

“Since the Nkandla saga, we decided as the defence force to wait until the probe was finished. This is not part of the primary estate, this is a primary healthcare facility and we need it to start operating and running soon,” said Brigadier General Siphiwe ‘Fanisa’ Shezi from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

He gave members of the media a tour of the SANDF clinic in Nkandla on Wednesday.

And, he was quick to point out that the clinic was also a necessity because: “We can also help the SANDF and the police in the area when they get sick. We have high blood pressure from our work, you know we are a sick nation so that’s why we needed a facility nearby.”

Members of the Nkandla ad hoc committee conducted an in loco inspection of the president’s private residence, but members of the media were limited to viewing the 21 SANDF barracks and a SANDF clinic.

“Here in KwaZulu-Natal we have the Joint Tactical Headquarters [based] in Durban.

“From 2000 until 2005, the South African Military Services tried to procure a hospital in Durban… before it was decommissioned because we wanted to build a fourth military hospital.

SANDF saw ‘an opportunity’

“So when the president decided to relocate and decided not to live in Gauteng, we saw an opportunity as the SANDF,” said Shezi.

He explained that previously the Natal Command was responsible for the province. But its headquarters on the Durban beachfront was decommissioned in 2009 after a consolidation process.

Shezi said when the president chose to settle in Nkandla, it was convenient to build a military clinic there.

“There is this belief that we have that we need to do things for the community, but we must also build infrastructure so that the community can also benefit.

“So this facility is known as the Primary Health Care facility. We use it as a resuscitation post for our troops around the borders because it’s too far to travel to Durban to be treated.”

He said it served as a 24-hour-facility. “In case of an emergency, we can call a helicopter through the Natal Command base and save a life.”

The clinic was also designed to assist visiting dignitaries requiring care, and geared to respond should there be outbreaks such as cholera and foot and mouth disease, “because not all our medical practitioners in the private and public sector would be able to respond”.

Shezi said many accidents happened in the area and they had to be able to transport patients and community members to the nearest state hospital quickly.

Clinic is a SANDF building

“We also believed that this clinic could help graduates from the area working here at this facility.”

Shezi said it was not necessary for the community to go through the stringent security because there was a gate that leads to the clinic.

When asked about the cost of constructing the clinic, he said: “This is a SANDF [structure], it is not attached to Nkandla, this is ours. We source funds differently than the presidential security because as you can see, this is not a security feature, this is a clinic.”

He said the department of public works would be able to answer questions related to the costs.

When asked why the SANDF chose to build the facility in Nkandla instead of the nearest community so they could benefit, Shezi said there were other public clinics in the area.

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