NEHAWU Limpopo is shocked at the latest spate of killings in healthcare facilities

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] in Limpopo is concerned about the lack of proper security in hospitals and clinics across the province. This has led to the death and injury of both staff and patients on numerous occasions.

An intern doctor was found killed in her room at the Mankweng Hospital in Polokwane and there was also an incident at the St Rita’s hospital where a husband shot at his wife and his son who had come to seek medical attention at the hospital.

Recently, we have observed an increase in violent incidents directed at both workers and patients. NEHAWU will not stand idle while our workplaces are turned into war zones. We refuse to allow a situation whereby patients come for medical attention but leave in body bags at the hands of assassins. These sporadic acts of violence prove beyond reasonable doubt that security is non-existent in healthcare facilities and more lives will be lost if immediate attention is not paid to this urgent matter.

The current situation has reached a crisis point and requires more than just rhetoric statements of condemning the violence. To continue to outsource security services under this current crisis is scandalous to say the least. Government as a whole as well as the Department of Health in particular must take charge of the security of its patients and workers and not put that responsibility in the hands of business people whose sole interest is to make money at all cost.

We are well aware how demoralized security officers are due to bad working conditions and sometimes they go for months without salaries and in turn they are never motivated enough to do their job without compromise and thereby exposing workers and patients to harm by criminal elements. Last year there were many reports of criminals robbing not only healthcare workers of their belongings but robbing security officials of their guns and cellphones as well. Never have we received any reports of security officials apprehending these criminals which renders security to be non-existent hence a provisional report we received from St Rita’s indicates that the shooter managed to escape without being apprehended from which we can deduct that everyone including security officials were running away for their lives. We know from experience as a union that security is only heightened during labour unrest where sniffer dogs and “amaberet” are unleashed on workers and immediately after that the intensity subdues. 

We further notes that with all the security breaches in healthcare facilities which result in deaths, senior departmental officials are never held accountable because they leave the private security companies to do as they please without applying the necessary supervision to compliance to the service level agreements while the department pays millions of rands every month.

We therefore repeat the call for government to insource security services, develop standards of operations of this service which responds to this challenge. We have noted that leaders have always dragged their feet when it comes to dealing away of security tenders while murders continues unabated. NEHAWU therefore calls for decisive leadership from the Department of Health led by the Premier of the province to respond to this crisis or else we will continue to count dead bodies in our hospitals and clinics.

NEHAWU further wish a speedy recovery to all the victims of the crime at St Rita’s Hospital and call on the SAPS to move with speed and apprehend the perpetrator of this heinous crime.

Furthermore, we extend a message of condolences to the Nkwashu family during this dark hour and we wish for the soul of Shongile Pretty Nkwashu to find eternal peace.

Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat Office For further information, please contact: Jacob Adams @ 082 558 5966 or email: