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Red Cross must release info on KZN MECís flight

Patricia Kopane, DA Spokesperson on Health
18 November 2012

The Red Cross Air Mercy Services (AMS) must confirm that the helicopter flight taken by KZN Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo was not a medical emergency.

MEC Dhlomo recently commandeered Durban’s only medical helicopter, resulting in 15-year old car crash victim Asheen Maharaj being declared brain-dead because he could not be airlifted to hospital fast enough.

The DA calls on AMS Group CEO, John Stone, to confirm that MEC Dhlomo’s flight to Hlabisa on 3 November did not necessitate the use of the only medical helicopter of one of South Africa’s largest metros.

Mr Stone must also confirm how many medical emergencies were reported in the metro on that day. There may well be similar horrific tragedies that would have been caused by the power abuse of MEC Dhlomo.

It is unacceptable that neither AMS nor MEC Dhlomo have been willing to provide the public with the most basic information about this serious matter.

The availability of emergency services is in the public interest and there can be no moral or legal justification for the silence of the MEC and AMS.

The fact that MEC Dhlomo’s motorcade arrived in Hlabisa before the MEC landed in the medical helicopter means that the flight was surely not necessary. It also appears that no medical emergency was reported before the helicopter airlifted the MEC.

Parliamentary questions and a demand by the DA for a statement by the MEC to the KZN legislature have so far gone unanswered.

The DA demands answers from Mr Stone for the sake of the family of Asheen Maharaj. The failure of anyone to take responsibility for this tragedy casts a very long shadow over the integrity of AMS and MEC Dhlomo.