Limpopo Hospitals and Court Buildings Badly Affected by Loadshedding

Some sectors in Limpopo were this week reeling from the effects of load shedding, which was exacerbated when standby generators failed to kick in at the High Court.

Health authorities in the province decided to cancel all elective operations and focus only on emergencies. Clinics have also been severely affected as most use boreholes that require electricity to pump water.

Provincial health spokesperson Neil Shikwambana said facilities had to rely on water tankers that have proven to be insufficient.

He said: 

Load shedding affects a wide range of patient care equipment such as chiller plants and air conditioners for theatres, medical gas and freezers for patient food, medicines and mortuary. Some of the impact of this is that hospitals are unable to carry out operations as planned.
“Facilities end up having to rely on water tankers from municipalities, which have proven to be not enough for the full functioning of hospitals. Without water, services such as washing of patient laundry, cooking patient food and other procedures which require a lot of water to perform cannot be performed,” Shikwambana said.

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Load shedding has exacerbated the water crisis in Polokwane and surrounding areas, which have already suffered several weeks of water shortages due to non-maintenance of infrastructure.

Municipality spokesperson, Thipa Selala, said the load shedding challenge came at a time when reservoir levels had shown no improvement, with some of them still at 0%.

He said:

The municipality and Lepelle Northern Water are engaging with Eskom to isolate water sources from load shedding to ensure sustainable supply of water to all areas.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has also since voiced its concern over continuing load shedding, especially after the generator failed to kick in at the Polokwane High Court, thereby setting cases back by several months.

Witnesses and suspects had to be turned away from various courts across the province as the buildings were plunged into darkness. The blackouts also sparked fears of possible escapes by transported awaiting trial prisoners.

NPA provincial spokesperson, Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi, said: “Load shedding is something that is beyond our control, but indeed it is affecting our case finalisation, as well as inconveniencing witnesses and everyone.”

Though News24 was made to understand that the failure of the generator to kick in this week at Polokwane High Court was due to non-procurement of diesel, the national Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, which is responsible for the maintenance of the building, indicated that “the generator has been faulty and the client failed to report this”.

“A number of suppliers were appointed to fix the generator, but they failed to commence with the work. We expect that the generator will be fixed and operational by the end of this week. Other government buildings do have stand-by generators,” department spokesperson Thami Mchunu said.

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