FORMER Deputy Prime Minister and opposition Alliance of Democrats (AD) leader Monyane Moleleki and his wife, Thabelo Ramatlapeng, have tested positive for the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19).
According to AD deputy leader Professor Ntoi Rapapa, Dr Ramatlapeng (also known as Malimpho Moleleki) was the first to test positive on 15 July 2020. She was then admitted at the Berea Hospital isolation facility on Saturday.
Prof Rapapa said Mr Moleleki got tested on 17 July 2020 and his results were released yesterday. He immediately checked himself into the same institution as his wife.
Ms Moleleki is the Director of Primary Health Care (PHC) Services at the Ministry of Health. She and her husband are the second and third high profile people to have contracted the virus which has so far infected 359 people and caused six deaths in the country.
High Court judge Lisebo Chaka-Makhooane died last week from complications arising from Covid-19.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Prof Rapapa said, “Mr Moleleki has also been admitted at Berea hospital along with his wife ‘M’e Malimpho”.
“I want to appeal to all AD members and the public to give their full support and prayers to the family of Mr Moleleki and Ms Moleleki to defeat this virus.
“Ntate Moleleki’s children have tested and fortunately their results came back negative. Some of his contacts including his colleagues and his drivers have also tested and their results are pending,” Prof Rapapa said.
AD treasurer Tlohelang Aumane said despite testing positive, Mr Moleleki was asymptomatic, meaning that he had no visible symptoms of the virus or illness.
“I need you to understand that Ntate Moleleki is not sick. He chose to be admitted so that he can be with Mme (Ms Moleleki) in Teyateyaneng, Berea,” Mr Aumane said.
“I talked to him about the poor condition of the (Berea) hospital and suggested that he could self-quarantine at home or go to a hospital in South Africa.
“He (Mr Moleleki) said that this was the time to be with Basotho. He said choosing luxurious hospitals was not an option for him and his wife when most Basotho were forced to go to the ones with poor facilities. ‘M’e Malimpho’ sister (former Health Minister Mphu Ramatlapeng) has exposed the shortcomings of the facility and the health ministry will be forced to improve its conditions.
“We believe that this gesture (by the Molelekis to choose a local hospital) will encourage the government to move faster to ensure that health facilities are conducive for patients. Being quarantined should not be a death sentence for Basotho,” said Mr Aumane.
Initially only Ms Moleleki’s condition had been disclosed. She did not answer her mobile phone when we contacted her for comment on Monday and Tuesday. It was instead answered by Mr Moleleki, who confirmed she had contracted the virus.
“She is in Teyateyaneng, Berea, now so I am going there today,” Mr Moleleki said, adding, “You can talk to her when I am with her there”.
We unsuccessfully tried again to speak to Ms Moleleki directly.
Asked why he had been able to twice visit his wife despite the restrictions on such visits, the AD leader could only say the authorities had allowed the visits.
“I do not know about anything else but I am being allowed because my wife has been put in a ward on her own.
“So, I when I go to see her, they allow me to get in. This does not necessarily mean other people are being allowed in as well. I would suggest you ask the Ministry of Health,” Mr Moleleki said.
The health ministry’s director for clinical services and head of Covid-19 case management, Dr Lucy Mapota, said visits were not allowed at isolation centres.
Dr Mapota said only in exceptional circumstances and with doctors’ permission could relatives be allowed to visit patients.
However, she said she was unaware of the circumstances surrounding Mr Moleleki’s visits to his wife.
“I am not in a position to answer because it (Mr Moleleki’s visit) is something that I am not aware of.
“But as you know ‘M’e (Ms Moleleki) is one of the senior staffers at the (health) ministry so I am not aware how this issue was looked at.
“However, we cannot rule out that we have the hospital management who have their own discretion on such matters,” Dr Mapota said.
All the AD leader’s visits to his wife happened while he was awaiting his own test results. World Health Organisation protocols and the health ministry’s guidelines state that a Covid-19 suspect is supposed to self-quarantine.