Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has described striking workers at Charlotte Maxeke hospital in Johannesburg who shut down the facility this week, trashing the hospital and forcing patients to leave, as "murderers". According to TimesLive, Mostoaledi has refused to acknowledge the strike, which is reportedly over unpaid bonuses.
Addressing the media on Thursday night, Motsoaledi reportedly said that 50 operations were scheduled to take place at the hospital on Thursday, but only 19 could take place as a result of the chaos.
"If I could find a person working here as a cleaner or a general worker or whatever that has got the audacity to go into theatre and stop people from performing operations‚ that person is a murderer. Strikes have got rules and they follow a particular pattern. This was just sheer acts of hooliganism where people have gone mad against their fellow human beings. Why should we trust such human beings? They are not human anymore," he reportedly said.
Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital, also known as Johannesburg General hospital, was on lockdown on Thursday after violence erupted. Reports on social media indicated that property was allegedly torched by striking staffers, while the entrances to the hospital were blocked.
Bins were reportedly emptied in the corridors and the pharmacy was closed, while patients reportedly had to be locked in the Nuclear Medicine department for their safety.
GroundUp reported that the striking workers were mainly nurses, porters and cleaners belonging to the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), angry over unpaid performance bonuses.
Motsoaledi reportedly added:
"I don't think anyone of us here has never been owed money in one way or the other by our employers‚ but you don't destroy human beings‚ especially sick people in theatre. I don't accept the fact that people had genuine grievances and they were supposed to have done what they have done. If we accept that as a society‚ then we can kiss civilisation goodbye."
According to GroundUp, Nehawu blamed the Gauteng department of health for the strike. The department reportedly admitted it did not have the money to pay the bonuses, but said this was no excuse for trashing the hospital.
The union also blamed the department for "emotionally blackmailing" the workers into returning to work.
Lulamile Sibanda, chair of Nehawu in Gauteng, addresed staff at the #CharlotteMaxeke Hospital. Says the employers wanted to "emotionally blackmail" them (Video: @JKwritingz) pic.twitter.com/FhOVWhCtGB
— City Press Online (@City_Press) May 31, 2018