The Zimbabwe Community in South Africa has condemned the dehumanisation by the Limpopo (Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Health, Dr Phophi Ramathuba, of a Zimbabwean patient who had gone to seek treatment in that country.
Dr Ramathuba was filmed telling a Zimbabwean woman that her country, not SA, must take responsibility for her health issues.
“You are supposed to be with Mnangagwa,” she said.
“You are killing my health system. When you guys are sick you just say, ‘let’s cross the Limpopo river, there’s a MEC there who’s running a charity department.’”
Ramathuba has been criticised on social media for violating medical ethics.
“The Zimbabwe Community in South Africa is dismayed if not astonished by the distasteful treatment and humiliation of an obviously frail and powerless patient in Limpopo by an official of highest rank in the province,” said the organisation’s spokesperson, Bongani Mkwananzi in a statement.
“The dehumanizing chastisisation of the Zimbabwean patient goes against any medical ethics, let alone human rights. It should be noted that the Hippocratic Oath describes a promise to try not to harm anyone and respect the dignity of a patient, to maintain the utmost respect for human life, not permit considerations of age, disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, social standing or any other factor to intervene between duty and patient.”
Mkwananzi said it was ironic that the South African Medical Association (SAMA) doctor’s topmost pledge says: “I will practise my profession with conscience and dignity and in accordance with good medical practice; the health and well-being of my patient, community and my broader African communities will be my key considerations.”
He said: “The degrading and filming of such degradation to the enjoyment of medical staff who should know better about their now “hypocritical” oath is the lowest level of dehumanizing of another human being, let alone a sick patient just off an operation and at the mercy of such a facility. It leaves a hollow feeling. The recent rabid treatment including crass murder in form of live burning of our innocent compatriots needs to be stopped.”
Such behaviour, Mkwananzi said could backfire on South Africans for years to come.
“Institutionalising such treatment is a road down a generational curse of the average person thinking it is normal to treat migrants and especially Zimbabweans as sub-humans,” he cautioned.
“We warn progressive South Africans that it may be Zimbabweans today, tomorrow it will be dehumanizing treatment because you are from another province, tomorrow because you are poor and contribute nothing to tax, another day because you are from a different political organization and other reasons which can be used even to a South African.
He added: “It is not true Zimbabweans are cowards who have done nothing to fix their situation, in actual fact the politicians of both countries are complicit in the plight of Zimbabweans and yes indeed the Zimbabwean government must be ashamed to cause a situation where our compatriots are now fodder for sub-human treatment.”
Meanwhile, opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has called for the sacking of Ramathuba for her conduct.