Criminal charges for protesters who trashed hospital

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CCTV camera footage is being scrutinised by police to identify the perpetrators who caused damage estimated at R3m plus during violent protests at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital over the last two months. The Times reports that this was disclosed by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa‚ in an oral reply to questions by Democratic Alliance health spokesperson Jack Bloom‚ in the provincial legislature.

Ramokgopa said that the charges included malicious damage to property‚ intimidation and attempted murder.

Bloom supported the stance of the provincial health and police teams. “I hope that the police do a proper investigation that can secure convictions in court…

“There should be tough consequences for those who trash a hospital and threaten staff and patients in what should be a place of healing.”

The report says the protest was over unpaid performance bonuses for the 2016-17 financial year. A deal is believed to have been struck to meet some of the workers’ demands. On 31 May‚ health workers affiliated to the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) blocked the entrances to the hospital with garbage‚ dustbins and rocks. The corridors inside the hospital were filled with rubbish including papers and half-eaten food. Hospital operations were disrupted and some patients were sent home. A SA Human Rights Commission hearing into the causes of the dispute heard earlier this month that the protesters even went into sterile operating theatre‚ forcing staff and their patients to lock themselves in toilets for their own safety.

It was reported that government explained to the SAHRC hearing that the dispute arose because the cash-strapped health department could not afford to pay the bonuses – amounting to about R350m – and the hospital had needed that money to buy machines‚ masks and other equipment.

Hospital CEO Dr Gladys Bogoshi was asked by the SAHRC where the money to fix the damage would come from. She replied: “The very same money we were supposed to use for goods and services for the hospital … I really don’t know. We’ll have to sit and see what we can do. For example‚ some operations will have to be postponed because we don’t have money for equipment.”

The Times report

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