KZN Health MEC announces brand new R75 Million maternity complex for newly-renamed Harry Gwala Regional Hospital (Ex-Edendale); Also urges management and staff to raise the hospital's standard of care, so it befits the legacy and stature of "The lion of the Midlands"

21 October 2021

KWAZULU-Natal Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane has for the first time revealed plans for a brand-new, state-of-the-art maternity complex to be built at the newly-renamed Harry Gwala Regional Hospital (previously known as Edendale Hospital).

There was jubilation, ululation and much fanfare as the hospital was officially renamed earlier today.

The occasion was attended by the Gwala family; Gauteng Education MEC Mr Panyaza Lezulu, who is also the chairperson of the Harry Gwala Foundation; amakhosi, as well as the mayor of Umsunduzi Local Municipality, Cllr Mzimkhulu Thebolla.

In recent years, the 67 year-old, 900-bed hospital has undergone a series of upgrades, including to its:

  • Accidents and Emergency and Outpatients Departments;
  • Public and patients' ablution facilities at the Gateway Clinic;
  • Replacement of broken gutters and downpipes;
  • Repairs to the walls in the front entrance of the hospital;
  • Construction of a new Communicable Diseases Clinic and Anti-Retroviral Treatment Pharmacy; MEC Simelane said a number of other projects are due to kick off in the new financial year, including:
  • Replacement of the lifts at the Nurses Home, to the tune of R1,8 million;
  • An asbestos removal programme, which will cost R6 million;
  • Construction of a brand-new Maternity Ward Complex, which will cost R75 million and greatly improve the environment in which babies are born.

"These will be the legacy projects as part of improving the service that we deliver to our people, while we pay homage to uBab'uGwala," she said.

Popularly known as "The Lion of the Midlands," the legendary and tough-talking Harry Gwala - who briefly worked at Northdale Hospital - was an ANC, SACP and South African Council of Trade Unions (SACTU) activist who was harassed, persecuted and imprisoned on Robben Island on two different occasions.

He was first arrested for "sabotage," tried, and sentenced to eight years between 1964 and 1972. After his release from prison, he was re-arrested in 1975, this time for "Terrorism." This time around, he was handed a life sentence. He was released in 1988 due to ill-health. He passed away in 1995. Delivering her speech, MEC Simelane said Government would not be deterred from naming public amenities after Struggle heroes, so that their names and contribution to society live on for eternity.

However, she pointed out that this posed a great challenge to the custodians of such institutions to uphold the highest professional standards at all times.

She gave health facility managers throughout the province an ultimatum to improve the level of care delivered to the public, or face the consequences.

"With the naming of our institution after our heroes comes a responsibility for management to raise and maintain service delivery standards. I cannot imagine a Harry Gwala Regional Hospital that is bedevilled by poor management, bad infrastructure, abuse of patients, and a generally negative reputation.

"You have to come up with a turnaround strategy. You must make sure that the people of Edendale are able to relate to the Harry Gwala Regional Hospital and own it. We must not be getting calls at night from people complaining about not getting adequate service. It cannot be this hospital that has those problems. And if it does not change, there will be consequences."

ENDS Issued by the Department of Health

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