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Criminals steal solar panels from hospitals and clinics

by Staff Reporter
08 Mar 2020 at 06:46hrs | Views
WELL-ORCHESTRATED syndicates stealing solar panels installed at Beitbridge's rural hospitals and clinics to help cushion the health facilities against load-shedding have become a menace, compromising service provision.

The criminals are also targeting other key solar infrastructure in villages, raising the need for communities, traditional leaders and the police to collaborate in fighting crime.

Since the beginning of 2019, thieves targeting solar panels and related accessories have hit Swereki, Lilombe, Mapili and Chamnangana clinics. Beitbridge West legislator, Cde Ruth Maboyi, said the thefts had reached alarming levels.

She urged communities to work with the police to revive the neighbourhood watch committees to minimise crime in the area. Cde Maboyi said traditional leaders should also impress upon their subjects the dangers associated with vandalising key social amenities within their communities.

According to the legislator, thefts have reportedly worsened the shortage of primary health care facilities in the district where the population is growing rapidly.

"We have a serious problem of thefts of solar panels from clinics and villagers' homes," said Cde Maboyi.

"We believe this is a syndicate because they attack several homes in a single day. The community and the police need to work together in dealing with this crime. It is sad to note that most clinics are now without solar panels because of theft."

She said the police should deal ruthlessly with these criminals and those who harbour them in their homes.

"If we don't look after this equipment we have ourselves to blame for the resultant poor health service delivery," she said.

The legislator said she will engage law enforcement agencies in Beitbridge town and those responsible for Beitbridge Rural District Council (BBRDC), to find a lasting solution to theft and vandalism of the district's key infrastructure.

The Sunday Mail reported that in places where power supplies have been tempered with, nursing staff resort to moving vaccines that need refrigeration to the main hospital in Beitbridge, which causes problems when there is an emergency.

Beitbridge district has an estimated population of 250 000 people. Two-thirds of the people live in the rural component where they walk between 20km and 50km to access the nearest health institution.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) standards, people must not walk for more than eight kilometres to access primary health care services.

Source - Sunday Mail