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By Citizen Reporter

Journalist


Nkandla protests: Mobile clinic health workers attacked

Protestors held healthcare workers hostage and threatened to necklace a staff member if the workers didn't give them money.


This past week, violent and dangerous protesters in Nkandla, in northern KwaZulu-Natal, brought the area to a standstill.

Bitter and frustrated demonstrators took to the streets in the small hometown of former president Jacob Zuma, saying they were ‘tired of empty promises’.

Healthcare workers threatened with necklacing

On Thursday, mobile healthcare workers were attacked in the Magogo area near Nkandla. The mobile clinics were also vandalised, and one was set on fire.

One health inspector was held hostage by angry demonstrators en route to Monyane Clinic in Nkandla.

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“He and three female colleagues were blocked and forcibly removed from the vehicle, which was then extensively damaged. The man was freed after about three hours,” said KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane.

Nkandla violent protests
Pictures: KZN Health Department

During a separate attack on Wednesday, at Umzinyathi District, a nurse was forced to pay her last R300 to a group of assailants in exchange for her safety and that of a colleague.

A group of men put a tyre around the colleague’s, and the nurse was told that if she didn’t pay up, they douse the tyre with petrol and set him alight.

“It is alleged that the mobile health teams were en route to various mobile health clinic points at Umzinyathi District when they were forced off the road by unknown gun-wielding men in a Toyota Quantum,” explained Simelane.

“The mobile health teams, which included women, were assaulted, robbed of their valuables, sworn at, and asked by the men, ‘How are you working while we’re unemployed?’”

The men then set one of the vehicles alight and smashed the windows of two others. The highly-traumatised staff members have had to receive counselling.

Simelane condemned the attacks.

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“We are deeply disturbed, shocked, and concerned by these incidents. We appeal to communities not to attack our healthcare workers or destroy public property because it deprives them of much-needed healthcare services and resources meant to assist them.

“These incidents are a severe setback to our gallant efforts to make healthcare accessible to everyone, including those in the rural areas.

“No one will ever know the full effects of these attacks on the psyche of the affected staff. Destroying vehicles and property take a serious toll on us because our resources are scarce,” Simelane explained.

The MEC grimly noted that replacing the damaged vehicles and repairing destroyed buildings could mean they cannot pay staff, buy medication or health technology equipment, or do routine maintenance work.

Local govt visit Nkandla

MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Sipho Hlomuka, is paying a visit to Nkandla to engage stakeholders and the community following a week of violent protests.

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Schooling was also disrupted in the area, with major roads going to the central business district being blocked.

The protesters are mainly complaining about the conditions of the roads in the area.

“The department is attending to most roads in Nkandla, including some major roads such as P16 which links Kranskop, Nkandla and eNquthu.

“This road is a multi-year project of more than 92 kilometres and is being constructed in phases. Other roads including P707, P706, P50, P90 and other local gravel roads.”

Saps have since been deployed to Nkandla to quell the situation and make sure that those who are responsible are brought to book.

Compiled by Narissa Subramoney

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