Residents of Northdale joined hospital staff at the local hospital on Thursday to voice their concern over the alleged religious discrimination against a staff member.An operations manager at Northdale Hospital is reportedly currently on sick leave following a “traumatic” incident this week. The Witness reported that CEO Buhle Maphanga and members of the executive committee allegedly forced the manager to empty her box of personal belongings, which included a statue of Hindu deity Lord Muruga, a framed photograph of Sai Baba, money and incense sticks, and confiscated the items.Although they were not allowed to speak, scores of community members joined the meeting meant for Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa) members at Northdale hospital on Thursday.Addressing the meeting was Hospersa union representative Mervelyn Singarum, who said the meeting was a union general meeting that had been arranged with hospital management prior to the incident. He said members of the community had not been invited in the initial request for the meeting and allowing them to speak would contravene the conditions of the request. “As we stand here security guards deployed by hospital management are waiting outside to tell me they are stopping the meeting, but your [community] presence here today is evidence enough of how you feel about the situation.Numerous staff members expressed outrage at the incident, saying it was a violation of the manager’s constitutional rights. A staff member that wished not to be named described the incident as “shocking and disgraceful”.“I’m a Christian and would also be traumatised if I was mistreated like this because of my religion. “I’ve worked at the hospital for 21 years and I’m very disappointed in the way the hospital has treated the operations manager,” she said.An irate hospital staff member, Dhanalutchmee Govender, spoke about the victimisation of Hindu devotees. She said she has also been a victim during her 14-year tenure at the hospital. “I don’t care about the compliments or judgments that come my way for work, but when it comes to my religion I will not stand for it. “We must fight this and we must fight it now,” she said Speaking on behalf of the community, Jay Jugwanth said the Northdale community would support the hospital staff in the action they chose to take against management. Moving forward, Hospersa resolved to lodge a formal grievance with the hospital. Singarum said Hospersa would call for the suspension of the CEO while the investigation is ongoing and apply for permission to picket while they wait for the results of the investigation. “This is a new kind of struggle for us, outside of fighting for wage increases and other labour matters. It is now time to really walk the walk of the struggle. If you don’t stand up for your rights now, you can kiss them goodbye,” said Singarum.