Protesters arrested after shutting down Pietermaritzburg clinic

They claim they were promised jobs at the facility

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Photo of barricaded road
Protesters prevented patients from entering Mbalenhle clinic in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday. Photo: Nompendulo Ngubane

Police arrested eight people among dozens of protesters who shut down Mbalenhle clinic in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday.

The protesters blocked the road to the clinic with burning tyres and stones. They stopped cars and patients from entering the facility. Police used teargas and rubber bullets to disperse the group.

Lieutenant Thulani Zwane said that cases of public violence had been opened at Plessislaer Police Station. The arrested protesters will appear in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrates Court on Friday.

The protesters live in ward 22 in Imbali Unit 3. One of them, Thembani Khuzwayo, said she was promised a job as a cleaner in January.

“Our ward councillor, Xolani Ngongoma, has held meetings with the clinic management and requested that they also hire people from the ward. After numerous meetings the management agreed to take 15 residents from ward 22. We were told to come with our CVs. Fifteen people were chosen in February. All of us were interviewed. After that we were measured for uniforms sizes. The management team told us to wait for a call for the actual date to start working,” said Khuzwayo.

She said they were promised that they would be called before Easter. “We waited but no one gave any of us a call. Until today we are still waiting,” said Khuzwayo.

Councillor Ngongoma said he was on his way to the police station to check on the residents who were arrested. “The matter is not new to me. I had meetings with the clinic management. They promised to hire 15 people from ward 22,” he confirmed. “They have been waiting for a long time. I have made numerous attempts with the management. I sent them emails which they did not respond to. It is sad that some members of the community have been arrested.”

Spokesperson for the KZN health department, Ncumisa Mafunda, said that the department regretted the disruption of operations at the clinic. She said several meetings have been held to resolve the impasse.

She said the matter “ultimately” concerns the service provider contracted to do the hiring. GroundUp has been unable to locate this service provider.

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TOPICS:  Health Labour

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