Neighbours Cecilia Njokweni, 79, and Caroline Ngquba, 74, are forced to spend R36 of their meagre old age grant to travel nearly 15km along a pothole-riddled bumpy gravel road on the back of a loaded bakkie whenever they need to access health care.
This is despite having a new multi-million rand clinic on their doorstep in Tikitiki village, on the outskirts of Tsolo.
Meanwhile the Tikitiki clinic, which was finally completed last year in April at a cost of R12-million after construction started in 1997, remains nothing but a white elephant.
This means the two elderly villagers, along with hundreds of their neighbours, still have to travel to the Dr Malizo Mpehle Memorial Hospital on the other side of the town.
Njokweni and Ngquba, who both use walking sticks, have to travel to the hospital at least twice a month to get medication for arthritis.
When the Saturday Dispatch visited Tikitiki village earlier this week, several residents lashed out at Eastern Cape health authorities for not caring about their plight.
“This village is huge as we have about 2600 households,” said community leader Bless Rosi.
“We asked for a clinic because people do not work here, but now we have this doll [clinic] that we can’t do anything about. It’s as if this government hates poor people like us.”
The facility is manned by guards from Tyeks Security, who were only brought in after thieves stole water tanks and part of the fencing.
Provincial health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo attributed the problem to issues of staffing.
He said the clinic was among the eight that were recently constructed by the department.
“We are busy with the process of staffing them [clinics],” he said, adding that the clinic would be opened as soon as the process was finalised. — firstname.lastname@example.org