Pretoria (New Ziana) –The Zimbabwe government, through its embassy in Pretoria, has registered its displeasure with South African authorities over the ill treatment of its national, who was harassed by a top health official in that country for seeking medical treatment.
In an act which has been widely condemned as unethical and xenophobic, Dr Phophi Ramathuba, a Member of the Executive Council (MEC) of Health in Limpopo province, harassed a Zimbabwean woman, asking her why she was receiving medical care in South Africa.
In the widely circulated video, Ramathuba also told the patient, in full view of other patients and hospital staff who were embarrassingly enjoying the scene, that she should seek treatment in her home country because migrants were stretching her department’s budget.
In a statement, the embassy said it was shocked by the behavior of the South African health official.
“The embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe in Pretoria watched with shock and disbelief the video in which a Member of the Executive Council (MEC) of health Limpopo province spoke to a Zimbabwean national who happened to be a patient in a hospital in the province,” it said.
“The embassy has been in contact with the government of South Africa through the Department of International Relations and Cooperation to who it has conveyed the concerns of the government of Zimbabwe on the comment made by the MEC.”
Since the incident, pressure has mounted on Ramathuba to resign.
South African opposition party the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) described her as a reckless populist whose conduct was “cynical, arrogant and morally bankrupt.”
The South African Medical Association has also come out against Ramathuba, accusing her of violating the Hippocratic Oath, the National Health Act and the Refugee Act and the South African Constitution.
Touched by the plight of the harassed woman, Arundel Hospital in Harare, which has an ongoing philanthropic practice where it provides free medical assistance to individuals from all walks of life, has offered to pay her medical bills.