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SITHOBELA – Admission or consultation fees at Sithobela Health Centre are down by a whopping 55 per cent after a E5 ‘community levy’ was scrapped by community members.

Until last Thursday, patients at the facility were paying E9 as admission/consultation fee; however, this is no longer the case.
According to insiders, 45 per cent of the amount (E4) went to government coffers while the remaining 55 per cent (E5) ‘community levy’ was remitted to a community committee, which is responsible for the maintenance of the facility.


Members of the committee are elected by community members at the umphakatsi, and the duration of their term is five years.
Workers at the facility, together with community members, took the decision to scrap the community levy following disagreements with the community committee executive.

The pay point, where patients paid the community levy, has been shut down and patients were advised to pay only the E4, which goes to government coffers.
Community members were unhappy with the manner in which the committee managed the funds and they were accusing it of failing to channel the funds towards the maintenance of the hospital.

“We felt that the best decision is to scrap the E5 levy because we don’t see where the money is going. Since government is experiencing financial challenges, we expected the committee to assist management with the money but the committee is refusing to release the funds,” alleged a community member.
The hospital is currently in dire need of funds for projects that include: grass cutting, fencing and rehabilitation of driveways.


Management was of the view that the community committee would fund the aforementioned projects as per its mandate but the committee has allegedly refused to release the funds, alleged a staff member.

“As you can see, animals are roaming freely within the premises of the facility because there is no fence. There is also overgrowth that needs to be cleared because it poses a risk to staff members residing within the premises of the hospital,” said the staff member.

Before the community and staff members took the decision to scrap the collection of the community levy, there were correspondences between staff members and the community committee.

Some months ago, staff members wrote to the committee, reminding its officials about their responsibility to maintain the facility.
In response, the committee reportedly informed staff members that it was answerable only to management and not to staff members or the community.
“The last time the committee presented financial statements, they stated that there was a E76 000 balance in the account. The question we have is; why is this amount kept in the bank instead of assisting the facility?” wondered a community member.

When this reporter visited the facility on Saturday, the pay point, where patients paid the E5 levy, was closed.
Patients who were interviewed said though they were happy that they were now paying only E4 as consultation fee, they did not know why the E5 levy was scrapped.

“We were only told that the community levy window (pay point) has been shut down and nothing else,” said a patient.
Sithobela Hospital Administrator Mlondi Lupupa said he was in a meeting and asked to be called later.
However, his mobile phone rang unanswered when called later.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the community committee confirmed that the E5 levy had been scrapped, however, he insisted that it would be reinstated before the end of the week.

“This has been caused by a misunderstanding,” said the committee chairman, Masuku Dlamini.
He said the staff and community members, who had stopped the collection of the levy, did not understand the mandate of the committee and the purpose of this levy.


Dlamini said though the committee was responsible for maintenance of the facility, there were officers at the facility who still needed to do their jobs.
He stated that it was not within the scope of the committee to clear overgrowth near staff houses.


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