Some patients in the North West have been robbed of their right to received healthcare after they were sent back from local clinics, allegedly by community health workers.
This as the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) in the province leads a protest to demand that community health workers be permanently employed by the Department of Health.
Some of the clinics that are affected include the Madibogopan, Setlagole and the Lonely Park clinic in Mahikeng.
One of the patients who were sent back, Elsie Gabayo, was disappointed because she has no money to buy medication for her mentally ill child.
“I brought a mentally ill patient to come and collect her medication. But now we have been sent back. Where am I supposed to get her medication? I am pleading with the government to please attend to this issue because we don’t have money to buy medication,” Gabayo said.
A representative of community health workers at Nehawu, Lorato Sampisi, said they were left with no choice after the employer failed to commit to employing them.
“From what the employer has said, he has not committed to employing community health workers. The employer has failed to tell us a date that community health workers will become permanent employees of the Department of Health in the North West. As Nehawu we feel that by failing to commit to a date, the employer does not have any intentions to employ community health workers permanently. And we will not give up until community health workers are absorbed into the system,” said Sampisi.
Provincial Department of Health spokesperson, Tebogo Lekgethwane, said the department will employ community health workers.
“We have committed to employing community health workers despite the fact that the issue beforehand was still discussed at the Bargaining Council. We were disappointed to learn that there are disruptions and acts of violence at health facilities, we really did not expect that. We know that our people have a right to protest, but if the government and community property is destroyed, someone has to account for that.
“That is why the department is engaging with the South African Police Service to ensure that government property is protected. And investigate those who are responsible for the torching of health facilities for them to take responsibility for their actions,” Lekgethwane said.
Nehawu distanced itself from disruptions at the clinics.