Health minister warns strikers against ‘murder’

2010-08-21 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — Striking public servants shut down schools, blocked roads and barricaded hospitals for a third day yesterday, prompting Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi to accuse them of the “murder” of emergency patients.

Among those turned away from hospital was a 21-year-old man who needed emergency surgery to re-attach his hand after it had been chopped off.

Neither Charlotte Maxeke and Chris Hani Baragwanath hospitals in Gauteng could take him in.

Motsoaledi went to Baragwanath, along with 60 qualified doctors and nurses, to volunteer his services after saying strikers had lost their humanity.

“If somebody gets into an operating theatre where somebody is being operated on and wants to disrupt somebody who is vulnerable, who is on life-support … that’s murder,” Motsoaledi said.

“I’m not surprised, but shocked, extremely shocked at the willingness to murder, because you can’t have that kind of country.”

“It shocks me that there is any living, normal South African who thinks like that.”

In Pietermaritzburg, strikers barged into the Grey’s Hospital paediatric ward on Thursday evening and attacked doctors and parents who were there to help care for their ill children.

On Thursday evening an anonymous caller told The Witness that a group of men had barged into the hospital building and assaulted people in the paediatric ward.

The anonymous caller continued: “You could see how terrified the children and their mothers were … These people did not want to listen to explanation, instead they threw insults and beat people up with sjamboks.”

An inside source at Grey’s confirmed the attack. “In fact one mother was sjambokked while she was guarding her baby.”

He said the first floor was flooded after the protesters blocked the basins and left taps running.

Edendale Hospital transferred their paediatric ward patients to Grey’s in the evening as there was no staff at the hospital.

The few patients that remained were cared for by a few doctors and assistants, who also had to keep the hospital doors locked to prevent the bullies from gaining entry.

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