Doctors: We're committed
The chairperson of the Junior Doctors’ Association of South Africa (Judasa), Dr Bandile Hadebe, says the government is handling the health sector in an “extremely inefficient” manner.
He was addressing a huge crowd gathered in Durban to protest doctors’ salaries.
Dr Hadebe said: "We are committed to our patients and delivering the much needed service, but we want government to come to the game and help us," he said.
Hadebe made reference to the oath taken by doctors and by those in power.
"We want ministers and MECs to commit to their oath so that we can commit to our oath".
The unhappy protesters, some clad in white doctors' coats, converged at Botha’s Garden then marched through the Durban city centre.
Some carried placards reading: "Understaffed, overworked and underpaid", "Patients and doctors deserve better", and "Better to be a bus driver than a doctor" - referring to a news report that junior doctors earn less than bus drivers.
'Ticking time bomb'
Cosatu president Sidumo Dlamini said meanwhile that doctors could make millions "out there" but they chose to stay and serve the nation.
"I notice that many of you are young and aspirant doctors wanting to contribute to the public service.
"You could have gone to the private sector but you stayed here to serve our mothers and fathers," he said outside the Durban City Hall.
In his address, Dlamini described the matter as a "ticking time bomb" and noted that if doctors were not happy in South Africa, the country would suffer.
"We are saying to our government that this matter is very urgent. Workers in this country have been in recession for many, many years.
"When salaries get lower, it is destroying the country," he said.
Police monitored the situation. Ethekwini metro police spokesperson Joyce Khuzwayo said the protesters were "very peaceful" and no incidents of violence were reported.
Doctors also marched in Pretoria and in Bisho, in the Eastern Cape.