- Nehawu members removed the CEO of Northdale Hospital from the building on Tuesday.
- They stormed some offices and spray painted walls.
- Staff said they were being forced to buy their own protective gear and sanitiser for work.
More than 50 National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) members stormed Northdale Hospital in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday and escorted CEO Edward Manyokole from the building, GroundUp reported.
The protesters expressed their dissatisfaction with Manyokole's management of the hospital, as well as with the hospital's human resources (HR) manager Sifiso Cele.
Nehawu members entered though the hospital's gates with placards. They went straight to Manyokole's office, demanding that he leave immediately. A pot plant in the passage was used to break the glass door of his office. They went to Cele's office and when the group discovered Cele was not there, they spray painted "CEO must go" and "hamba inja" ("the dog must leave") on the walls.
The protesters then escorted Manyokole outside the gates, carrying his bags to his car.
Mazwi Ngubane, Nehawu secretary in the Harry Gwala region, said Manyokole and Cele had ignored requests to meet with the union to discuss issues at Northdale.
Ngubane said conditions at the hospital were "worse than before" and staff were unhappy.
"Their lives are put at risk. We have an issue of Covid-19 dead bodies being kept in the hospital longer than they should be. The issue of personal protective equipment (PPE) is also a problem. The department said it has run out of funds. It is surprising how the department has no budget while workers are at risk," he said.
He said the workers were relying on PPE from a field hospital at the Royal Showgrounds which was constructed to assist with the influx of Covid-19 patients during the peak. The facility has since been closed.
"We trusted the CEO to make a difference after the suspension of the former CEO. The employees were patient with him, hoping he would change. He had shown arrogance. We want both of them out of this hospital. They must go," Ngubane said.
An employee who asked not to be named said they had to buy their own PPE and sanitiser for work. "Fortunately, we have a warehouse nearby where we buy our protective gear. It's a mess. We work because there is nothing we can do."
On his way out, Manyokole told GroundUp the workers were accusing him of things he was not aware of.
"They say I'm arrogant. All they want to do is to dictate and I cannot allow that," Manyokole said.
Head of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health Dr Sandile Tshabalala condemned the actions of the protesters.
"A high-level team of officials from head office has been deployed to investigate the incident," Tshabalala said.
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