Nehawu strike: Lives lost during volatile strike – Health Dept
Nehawu continued its strike for a third day with patients across South Africa struggling to access hospitals, surgeries and dispensaries.
Demonstrators picket outside the Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg, 6 March 2023, as part of National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) strike action, with workers demanding a 10% salary increase. Picture: Michel Bega/The Citizen
The Health Department has confirmed the strike action by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has led to the loss of lives.
Nehawu continued its strike for a third day on Wednesday, with patients across South Africa struggling to access hospitals, surgeries and dispensaries.
Appointments are being cancelled and working members of staff face intimidation as the strike intensifies.
Deaths linked to strike
Speaking to The Citizen, National Health Department spokesperson Foster Mohale said Health Minister Joe Phaahla received a “broad report” about patient deaths during the strike.
“This is the report that the minister got when we visited Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, that some death reports in Gauteng could be linked to the strike action by Nehawu members.”
“So, today we want to go back to get the full briefing and also to visit other health facilities for them to gauge the impact of the strike,” Mohale said.
Mohale said Phaahla will be joined by Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi and Gauteng MEC for Health and Wellness, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, during the visits.
Mohale said the department is seeking legal advice.
“As indicated by the minister yesterday, we are seeking legal advice because this is going to be a legal matter as soon as we have established the full facts about the reported deaths.
“So far we have not received any reports of injuries in terms of healthcare workers, doctors and nurses because they were just chased away and told to leave, and were locked out of the premises,” he said.
On Wednesday, the Gauteng Health Department obtained an interim interdict preventing the disruption of medical service in the province.
Gauteng Health Department spokesperson Motalatale Modiba said the interim interdict is applicable with immediate effect.
“It prevents striking workers from doing anything that directly or indirectly obstructs or impeaches access to and from health facilities across Gauteng or even from damaging any departmental property,” Modiba said.
Mohale said Nehawu is expected to meet with the negotiator for the Department of Public Service and Administration on the way forward.
The disgruntled public servants are calling for a 10% wage increase, but the government has offered a 4.7% increase.
“We’ll know later during the course of the day how they are going to conclude, which will give the direction to how the situation will be going forward.”