Maverick Citizen


Eastern Cape Health MEC obtains interdict against strikers as devastation continues at hospitals

Eastern Cape Health MEC obtains interdict against strikers as devastation continues at hospitals
Patients wait for treatment at Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha on Tuesday. (Photo: Hoseya Jubase)

Locked up and forgotten, psychiatric patients were banging on windows screaming for help as pregnant women tried to assist one another on the third day of a Nehawu strike.

Devastating scenes played themselves out at Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital and Mthatha General Hospital on Wednesday as Nehawu members brought both establishments to a standstill.

Some patients had been waiting since Tuesday morning for help.

In the maternity ward, pregnant women were left with no nurses or doctors to assist them. Security guards turned some away. A patient admitted to the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital maternity ward said they did not get any help in the morning. 

eastern cape meth strikers meth

Eastern Cape MEC for Health Nomakhosazana Meth. (Photo: Hoseya Jubase)

“Nobody could help us since this morning, and the situation is getting worse as they continue with the strike. We are being told to help ourselves,” she said. “We are now helping each other. But some of us will be in serious trouble if this continues. We know we can die.”

Cries for help

In the psychiatric ward, patients knocked on the windows, crying for help. One said he was told he was going to be released by Wednesday. 

“The doctor left us in the morning. We can’t do anything, we are just moving up and down, and some of us need serious attention because they are not okay, but there is no one to help us,” he said.

One of the workers, Themba Mantyi, who is affiliated with Nehawu, said they had been forced to take protest action because the government “failed to listen to our leadership”.

He said many workers suffer from depression because of financial hardship.

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“Another issue that is facing us as workers is the shortage of staff. We are also defending our community here because this affects the patients too.  

“We are also assisting the patients by doing this strike because we are in a serious crisis, but people outside do not know about it. There is no equipment in our facilities. There are a lot of issues affecting workers, but the public is not aware of them. 

“Most of our facilities are in crisis. You don’t know how many workers are depressed because of these conditions,” Mantyi said. 

Nehawu’s secretary for the King Sabata Dalindyebo Municipality, Nombulelo Maphempeni, said there was still no agreement with the government. 

“There will be a meeting tomorrow of the four unions which include Popcru, Sapu, Denosa and Nehawu in Gauteng,” she said. 

“There is no agreement for now with the employers.” 

Maphempeni said they worry about people who are losing their lives because of the strike.

Whipped by strikers

There were reports of staff being whipped by strikers to keep them away from hospitals.  

Nehawu members protested outside Frontier Hospital in Komani, but they allowed sick people and ambulances to enter the hospital.

However, Nehawu’s regional secretary for the Chris Hani District, Mvuyisi Siko, said the Komani hospital was closed.

“We are intensifying the strike by going to clinics. The majority of hospitals and courts are closed in Cofimvaba, Middelburg and Cradock. Today we are going to Tarkastad,” he said.

Nehawu ‘intensifying strike’

Frontier Hospital Nehawu branch secretary Ntozini Deliwe said they were intensifying their strike.

“On Tuesday we were joined by Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) members. We are allowing patients and ambulances to come inside and we are not intimidating anyone who wants to go to work,” he said. 

Zithulele Hospital, near Mqanduli, was also badly affected. Doctors reported that patients were left stranded after spending their week’s wages on transport. There were also reports of hospitals running out of blood because transport services had been stopped. But the department has yet to confirm this.

Late on Wednesday, the Eastern Cape MEC for Health, Nomakhosazana Meth, obtained a Labour Court interdict giving the police and the Sheriff of the High Court permission to remove striking workers from hospital premises.

The interdict also forbids the barricading of roads to hospitals, the barricading of entrances, assaults and the intimidation of workers. Striking workers are barred from coming within 200m of a hospital unless they want to work. DM/MC


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Mark Gory Gory says:

    “Making this country ungovernable” is all the anc knows. Just break everything and then expect someone else to fix it.
    Tragic especially for more vulnerable people who mysteriously keep on voting for them.

  • Bill Gild says:

    Together with recent reports of barbaric violence by some NEHAWU strikers, widespread collapse of healthcare services at some state facilities, the apparent absence of law enforcement in enforcing multiple interdicts, ongoing electricity woes, an economy technically in recession, and widespread student unrest (yet again), it seems that the wheels are coming off (in South Africa) at an increasing clip.

    What the immediate and medium-term future holds for South Africa is unknown, but there is little, if anything, that supports an optimistic perspective.

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