Update on protest action in the Western Cape
Since the start of the week there have been several incidents of protest led by Nehawu across the country. In the Western Cape this has been mainly isolated to the Khayelitsha area resulting in some disruption of our healthcare services.
Protest action has been ongoing in the community of Khayelitsha at Michael Mapongwana Clinic and Khayelitsha District Hospital. Although there has been no damage to infrastructure, the protest has resulted in the transferring of critical patients to other facilities such as Helderberg, Tygerberg, Mitchells Plain and Karl Bremer Hospitals. On Tuesday night, protesters disrupted services and blocked staff from entering Khayelitsha District Hospital and continued during Wednesday.
We have had peaceful protests at Karl Bremer and Tygerberg Hospital. The only disruption came about at Karl Bremer on Wednesday afternoon when they had to close the gates temporarily, but service delivery was not interrupted.
As of this morning, Thursday 9 March, services resumed with no patient diversions in place, although there are still protesters outside Khayelitsha District Hospital and Michael Mapongwana Clinic.
We are aware of reckless rumours circulating of people losing their lives at Khayelitsha Hospital as a direct result of the protest action. We strongly condemn this as misinformation. As at all hospitals, there are critically sick patients who sometimes succumb due to their particular illness or injury. None of the deaths have been linked to the protest as confirmed by our detailed medical records of each patient. It is thus misleading and negligent to allege that they were linked to the protest as the health department has ensured continuous in-hospital medical care.
While plans are in place to ensure continuation of services, we strongly condemn any action that affects the safety of our patients and staff and the infringement of our clients’ Constitutionally enshrined human right to access to healthcare services. The Departments of Health and Wellness and Social Development are preparing for an urgent application to interdict Nehawu's illegal strike action.
We also continue to strengthen security to ensure the safety of our patients and we urge everyone to be vigilant. We are monitoring the situation closely with the assistance of the South African Police Services and other law enforcement agencies including provincially funded Law Enforcement Advancement Programme (LEAP) officers from LEAP’s reaction unit.