Members of Operation Dudula and Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla have smoked the peace pipe resulting in the movement calling off their protest outside the Kalafong Provincial Tertiary Hospital in Atteridgeville, Pretoria.
As part of the protest, Dudula members were preventing suspected foreign nationals from accessing healthcare services at the hospital.
Phaahla visited the hospital on Thursday afternoon to assess the impact of the protest.
After a meeting with the Dudula leadership, it was agreed that the protest would stop. “We have noted with concern over the last few days organised protests at some of our health facilities, especially in Gauteng.
“These groups of people have been blocking access to health facilities thus causing serious disruptions to the orderly provision of health services to vulnerable, ill people seeking help at our health facilities.” He said:
Phaahla said he was aware that the mobilisation by groups such as Dudula was associated with erroneous interpretation of comments made by Limpopo Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba to a patient at Bela-Bela hospital recently.
“The first issue is that we agree with those who are saying it was inappropriate for the MEC to direct her concerns to a patient who was in a vulnerable state and a victim of circumstances.
The second issue is that the substantive matters which MEC was raising in terms of the high demand and pressure on our health services beyond what is planned for put additional pressure on a system which was already fragile for many reasons which are known to many of us,” he said.
Phaahla said the meeting went well.
“We looked at the issues which the leadership of Operation Dudula had raised concerning the workload [on staff], pressure on the hospital, long queues and allegations of people who are [allegedly] stealing medicines and also allegations of corruption.
We have agreed that these are very important matters which we can address without any need for picketing and demonstrations.” He said:
He said in terms of reducing the pressure of demand for services by foreign nationals, it’s government which should come up with solutions and not ordinary citizens.
“I am calling on fellow South Africans, whether organised or not, to avoid being lured into activities which are unlawful and will not benefit them as individuals or their communities. By blocking the entrances of our health facilities, you are actually disadvantaging the very citizens who you think you are acting in defence of. Our heroic health workers are still recovering from the burden of Covid-19, both physically and mentally, and it’s unfair to subject them to further trauma,” he said.
Pat Mokgalusi, Operation Dudula’s national administrator and greater Tshwane regional secretary, said they had a fruitful meeting with the hospital management and the minister.
Meanwhile, on Thursday things were back to normal at the Hillbrow Clinic in Johannesburg where members of the EFF had earlier clashed with Dudula members as the red berets believed that it was an injustice to turn away people seeking healthcare services.