Eastern Cape health MEC condemns attack on hospital doctor during strike

Helen Sauls August, Health MEC. (Supplied, Eastern Cape Govt)
Helen Sauls August, Health MEC. (Supplied, Eastern Cape Govt)
Eastern Cape Govt

Eastern Cape Health MEC Helen Sauls-August has condemned an attack on a hospital doctor on Wednesday during an electricity-related strike by the Zithulele community in the Eastern Cape.

"The terrorising behaviour of the Zithulele community is unacceptable. Health personnel should be allowed to do their work without any disruptions as they provide an essential service," Sauls-August said in a statement on Thursday.

The strike turned violent when community members demanded that hospital staff - who form part of essential services – join them.

When Dr Ben Gaunt attempted to negotiate with the protesters to allow staff to continue working, a knobkerrie was used to hit him over the head

"Fortunately, Dr Gaunt was not severely injured and returned to work today (Thursday)," the MEC's spokesperson, Lwandile Sicwetsha, said.

"It's a criminal act [to prevent] essential services from dealing with patients who require medical attention," Sicwetsha added.

The MEC warned: "This incident could trigger a departure of many health professionals who have been servicing the Zithulele community with diligence, and none would want to work in a violent, threatening environment."

The hospital is still operating for in-patients. Police were called in to manage the situation at the hospital.

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