Avatar photo

By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

WATCH: At least four dead due to Nehawu strike

Health Minister Joe Phaahla lashed out at healthcare staff who intimidated and threatened other colleagues reporting for duty.

At least four people have died as a result of the strike action by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu).

This is according to Health Minister Joe Phaahla, who was briefing the media on Thursday morning.

Phaahla and Gauteng MEC for Health and Wellness Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko conducted site visits to health facilities affected by strikers, beginning with the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.

Watch the briefing by Health Minister Joe Phaahla

Patient deaths

The health minister said patients have died as a result of the strike and lashed out at healthcare staff who intimidated and threatened other colleagues reporting for duty. 

“A reconciliation in the province and nationally in terms of the people who have died, as of this morning, preliminarily… there was an indication that up to a number of four people are likely to have lost their lives in a manner which can be attributed directly to the strike.”

“We have a legal team which we are consulting to look at what are our options in that regard,” Phaahla said.

ALSO READ: Human Rights Commission disappointed by violence used as ‘message’ during protests

No work no pay

Phaahla stressed the principle of “no work no pay”.

“The principle of no work no pay will be implemented quite forthright and we are under very clear instructions from our senior people in government, the MEC and her team and all other provinces must not entertain the idea of a staggered no work no pay.”

“If it’s withdrawal of services in March, that deduction must happen in the course of March,” He said.

Phaahla warned that those suspected of participating in the “violence and disruptions” will face the full might of the law.

“On the one side, we will explore with our legal team criminal charges, but also disciplinary charges will be given to those who have been implicated.”

Gauteng worst hit

The strike’s affected health services in several provinces, including Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, where the Health Department obtained an interdict to prevent workers from blocking the entrances to hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities.

Phaahla added that Gauteng was the most hit by the strike.

“However, since in the morning today, the situation has improved a bit with some facilities still experiencing difficulties.

“Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital was impacted yesterday. We can report that all wards and clinics at this facility are operational today at above 90 percent functionality. While at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital the situation was stable inside even though the protest outside intensified with access to the main entrance obstructed,” Phaahla said.


Phaahla has advised provincial health departments to seek and apply for court interdicts to protect workers and property against the violence meted out by the Nehawu striking workers.

He added that the department has assigned senior managers to all affected districts and health facilities to provide support to assess the situation and provide the necessary support.


The Citizen has reached out to the general secretary of Nehawu Zola Saphetha, but there was no response at the time of publishing.

ALSO READ: Nehawu strike: Lives lost during volatile strike – Health Dep

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits