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Nehawu strike spreadI` as violence escalate

09 Mar 2023

The ongoing wage strike by health workers has escalated nationally, with violence and intimidation the order of the day while patients are being turned away and those admitted left unattended. Yesterday, a labour court judge in the Free State ruled in favour of the provincial department of health against acts of intimidation and the prevention of nurses and other health workers from going to work. The Eastern Cape health department said it will also challenge the protest action in court.
Several patients with appointments had to return home without assistance while some awaiting operations were discharged due to shortage of staff at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital yesterday. Workers at the facility barricaded entrances with rocks and garbage, causing traffic. Workers affiliated to Nehawu are on strike demanding a to% salary increase. Douglas Mitchel, 68, was seen pushing his wife Evelyn Clarke, 66, from the hospital in a wheelchair after her radiation session was postponed. Clarke has throat cancer and has been receiving treatment at Charlotte Maxeke since August last year. At Helen Joseph Hospital, also in Joburg, emergency surgeries had to be deferred.

George Khumalo, who was admitted on Sunday after he suffered a pulled Achilles, was told his operation would be done on Monday morning but it kept being pushed. "I had not eaten for over 24 hours because they kept pushing back my surgery," he said. At Tembisa Hospital in Ekurhuleni, the night shift staff was prevented from leaving the premises. Protesters burnt tyres at the gate and police had to be called. Lebakwe Matlou, who had brought her sickly daughter to the hospital, said they were told workers were only attending to emergency cases. In KwaZuluNatal, health workers outside General Justice Gizenga Mpanza Regional Hospital in KwaDukuza allegedly attacked a private ambulance carrying a child in a critical condition and also assaulted a paramedic.

SA Human Rights Commission spokesperson Wisani Baloyi said employees should not resort to violence during their demonstrations. "We also request Nehawu to be considerate to the wasted travel and catering costs for those who travelled from far yet have not been able to access healthcare services as a result of disruptions at various healthcare facilities across the country," said Baloyi. Meanwhile, protesters stormed Tekwane Clinic near Mbombela in Mpumalanga yesterday and ripped off fire extinguishers from walls before emptying the contents on the floor. The clinic had to be closed for the day. Inside Rob Ferreira Hospital, some patients were seen loitering while workers protested outside the locked gate. At Shongwe Hospital, a grieving family returned home empty handed after they were refused entry into the mortuary to collect the body of their relative.

Source: Sowetan

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