DA calls for immediate action from SAPS against NEHAWU’s illegal strike

Issued by Andrew Whitfield MP – DA Shadow Minister of Police
13 Mar 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Andrew Whitfield MP.

The Labour Appeal Court’s decision to interdict National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) from continuing with their strike means that the South African Police Service (SAPS) has no option other than to act if these strikes continue.

The DA therefore calls on the SAPS to act urgently and prevent any NEHAWU member from obstructing the operation of any hospital or clinic. Any death caused as a result of a delay in medical services will be on their hands and they together with the union bosses must be held responsible.

NEHAWU’s comments to intensify their strikes this week is concerning. The DA strongly condemns all forms of violence or intimidation against patients and hospital staff.

Whilst the Constitution protects the right to protest and demonstrate, it does not allow for non-peaceful strikes or intimidation.

The same constitution states that everyone has the right to healthcare and the right to be free from all forms of violence. NEHAWU strikers have shown a flagrant disregard for the rule of law and the lives of patients in these hospitals.

This was confirmed by NEHAWU Western Cape Provincial Secretary, Baxolise Mali, on 8 March 2023, saying “it is not our responsibility to keep people’s lives”. This was in response to pleas to allow patients, doctors and nurses to enter to the hospital to do their jobs.

Last week citizens were bombarded with images showing striking workers at the Free State’s Pelonomi Hospital, with some people wielding sjamboks and intimidating health workers from entering the hospital. Health Minister, Joe Phaala said four people have died amid ongoing protests by members of the union so far.

The continuation of these strikes will mean more innocent lives lost.

If SAPS fails to uphold the interdict by the court to stop these strikes they are complicit in any further damages and deaths that might arise from continued strike actions.

Furthermore if SAPS does not act we will request that the Police Commissioner appear before the Police Portfolio Committee to account for the action taken by SAPS to prevent further loss of life.