DA to ask HRC to investigate Nehawu strike

Issued by Michele Clarke MP – DA Shadow Minister of Health
14 Mar 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Michele Clarke MP.

In light of the severe damage to the public health sector and the detrimental impact on patients, the DA will request that the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) investigate the Nehawu strike.

Since the strike’s commencement, the DA has done multiple oversights and engaged with even more public health sector stakeholders. Our findings concur with media reports. The hospitals and clinics that aren’t crippled by the strike, are being overrun by the patients diverted there – and buckling under the pressure. We commend these public health facilities for doing their best to serve the public under extremely difficult circumstances and provide the best possible care. However, the situation is unsustainable.

The Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, has confirmed that the death toll is rising. Patients and staff are being barred access to health facilities and intimidated and threatened – often in full view of the police who rarely intervenes. Hospitals are filthy, and at many facilities all but the most infirm patients have had to be discharged. The impact on the health of the discharged patients and other members of the public that seek care might be immense.

It is time Nehawu brings the strike to an end. Yesterday, the Labour Appeal Court interdicted this strike action which includes essential workers in the health sector. This bars them from participating in pickets, strikes or industrial action.

While the DA has sympathy for the horrendous circumstances many public health practitioners work in, a wage dispute cannot supersede the oath of care.