Hammanskraal Cholera cases drop, as the source remains elusive

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla, has welcomed a significant downward trend in the Cholera outbreak in Tshwane, as the source of the waterborne disease remains elusive.

“The numbers are going down drastically and we’re very hopeful that in the next few days [the numbers will go down even further] and happy that there haven’t been new deaths this week and severe illness at this stage,” the Minister said on Wednesday.

The Minister was providing an update on the department’s efforts and interventions in response to the cholera outbreak to curb the spread and save lives.

“While it might be important to locate the source, it’s not always going to be in diseases like these. While it’s desirable, we must also be realistic that it’s not always the case that you’re going to drill down and find the initial cause in any community because of various factors.”

The key message at this stage, according to Phaahla, is that the outbreak of cholera is limited to a small area in Free State, Ngwathe Municipality, with no reported new cases since 23 May 2023.

Meanwhile, in Tshwane, the infections are dropping, where 99 cases have been confirmed, with seven reported in the last 24 hours.

Of the new infections, three patients are being treated at Jubilee Hospital, while the rest are spread across Military, Eugene Marais Life, Netcare Montana and Odi hospitals.

In addition, the death toll remains at 24, of which one was recorded in Free State.

The current outbreak of cholera disease, the Minister said, can be traced from the first two cases reported by Gauteng in February this year.  

“This is the case of two sisters from Diepsloot in Johannesburg who had travelled together by bus to Malawi in January and returned on 30 January 2023.”

The husband of one of the women also subsequently tested positive for cholera after developing symptoms, while eight more cases were confirmed, claiming a life of a child in Ekurhuleni.


The Minister said Tshwane is currently the epicentre of the cholera outbreak since the first case was detected in Hammanskraal in a 56-year-old male originally from Giyani, Limpopo, who resides in Musina.

The patient, who is a police officer, was enrolled for a three-week course at the South African Police Service College in Hammanskraal.

The officer arrived on 7 May and complained of diarrhoea and vomiting and was taken by ambulance to Muelmed Hospital in Pretoria on 15 May.

More students started complaining of gastrointestinal symptoms with 33 seen at various health facilities resulting in eight admissions and all are in a stable condition.

“The patient [police officer] is still in ICU in a stable condition receiving treatment.”

In the past seven days, 163 patients presented at Jubilee Hospital with diarrhoea and vomiting giving an average of 23 patients per day.

“The number of deaths was 17 in seven days,” he said.

However, between 24 and 30 May, the number reduced to 30 patients with an average of four patients per day and two deaths.

Free State

Meanwhile, on 12 May, the Minister received a message from the MEC of Health that eight patients had died from diarrhoea, two at home and three each at Parys and Boitumelo hospitals.

“Unfortunately, due to the fact that some of the patients presented at clinics where conditions were not adequate to take specimens for laboratory, this was not done.”

Later, the test revealed that one of the deaths was linked to cholera, while eight more people have since contracted the disease in the province. This brings the total number of infections in the province to nine. 


He said interventions in health services include the creation of special cholera and gastroenteritis wards, the deployment of gastroenteritis specialists at Jubilee, the fast-tracking of laboratory results and the setting up of a field hospital clinic.

The department has also deployed additional health staff, embarked on an educational drive in the community, and reinforced messages of prevention through basic hand hygiene, and water and food safety.

“Our colleagues in the Water Department, both in the City of Tshwane and the Department of Water and Sanitation, are continuing to examine the water sources to determine any contamination.” – SAnews.gov.za