KZN medic strike leader in custody after appearing in court

2015-05-25 13:05
Medics gather outside the Durban Magistrate's Court. (Jeff Wicks, News24)

Medics gather outside the Durban Magistrate's Court. (Jeff Wicks, News24)

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Durban - The alleged “saboteur” in a province-wide medic go-slow, Eric Sifiso Dlamini, was remanded in custody after appearing in the Durban Magistrate's Court on Monday.

Dlamini was arrested on charges of intimidation on Saturday, and was reportedly linked to “numerous incidents”, including the burning of state EMRS ambulances in the lead up to the illegal strike action.

He will appear again on Tuesday for a formal bail application.

On Friday, hundreds of EMRS medics stayed away from work in a move that crippled the state ambulance serve in the province.

Many bases had no ambulances available and the EMRS base in the centre of Durban only had two staffed ambulances that were available to deal with emergencies.

Solidarity

The state ambulance service deals with hundreds of emergencies daily and the latest stay-away is believed to be linked to the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) payments, as well as other issues.

Throngs of medics in uniform packed the gallery and when Dlamini stepped into the dock, they raised clenched fists in the air in a show of solidarity.

Dlamini spoke to News24 on Friday, insisting that he was giving a voice to aggrieved workers who had been failed by the Department of Health.

“From 2012 we raised various issues with the health department and they have done nothing. The MEC for health and the national minister have both been unresponsive,” he said.

“The problem is that we have a department that does not care about the employees and they expect us to take care of the patients. If we are not looked after, how are we to look after them [patients]?”

“Patients will be left unattended in their homes because of this. We never wanted to take it this far, but the department decided to be stubborn. I lost my job so you can use my name as a voice for all the EMRS, I am not afraid,” he said, a day before he was arrested.

'Hooligan'

Outside court, Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo held a press briefing, which was largely drowned out by a group of over 100 medics, who chanted denigrating slogans.

“It is startling to me that someone who was dismissed from the department more than two years ago is able to mobilise a mob of people who are supposed to be delivering service, instead they are coming here to support an alleged saboteur,” he said.

“There have been instances when our ambulances have been damaged and that he needs to answer for that and these people [referring to the medics] are supposed to be at work.”

A visibly irked Dhlomo said that the staff would be dealt with “administratively”.

“I wait to see how the acting head of the department will deal with these people administratively. They have now demonstrated that they do not care for South Africans - they care more for this hooligan.

"They have made a choice and it is more important to come and support this man at the expense of them providing a service to the people who need them. They cannot be trusted and they have essentially dismissed themselves,” he added.

Read more on:    sibongiseni dhlomo  |  durban  |  strikes  |  health

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