KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said the department was not throwing out nurses from staff residences at Wentworth and King Edward VIII hospitals to make them “destitute”.
The Mercury reports that Simelane-Zulu responded to allegations made by unions, that more than 50 nurses living at the Wentworth and King Edward VIII Hospital residences had been handed eviction notices – apparently to make way for South African doctors expected to return home after completing their training in Cuba.
Simelane-Zulu said the department’s managers had embarked on an assessment of health facilities’ accommodation last year. She said the head of the department was dealing with the matter. Simelane-Zulu said the accommodation had been provided for a specific time, according to a lease agreement.
She said the accommodation was supposed to be used for nurses and doctors who could show the hospital was far from their homes and that it would be expensive for them to commute. However, she said, at some hospitals, there were people still staying there who no longer worked at the facilities. “If you get a job elsewhere, you relinquish your rights at that facility and move to another facility.
“In other facilities, there are health workers living there for 12 years, and some are retired and are living in these facilities.”
She is quoted in The Mercury as saying the department was checking contracts to establish who should still have access to the accommodation.
The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) in KwaZulu-Natal has vowed to take legal action against the KwaZulu-Natal Health Department, reports The Mercury. Nurses were handed the notices in June and have been told to move out before 1 October. Denosa said that their lawyers were busy drafting papers to challenge the eviction.
Denosa KZN provincial secretary Mandla Shabangu described the eviction notice as “ridiculous and senseless”. He added that they viewed the reasons advanced by Wentworth Hospital management as very divisive.
National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union provincial secretary Ayanda Zulu said their members would be not be going anywhere on 1 October. Zulu said that some of their members lived far away from their workplaces and needed this accommodation.
Zulu added that any attempt to evict them would be confronted head-on and they would not back down. “We are, however, waiting for the department to meet with us. If it fails to do that, we will definitely take legal action against the department and quite possibly as early next week. We are not going to allow them to treat our members in this manner,” said Zulu.
According to The Mercury, spokesperson for KZN Health Ntokozo Maphisa said according to the employee housing policy for health, the termination clause on each of the tenants’ agreements stated that “this agreement may be terminated by the lessor by giving three months’ notice in writing of such termination”.
“Therefore, the majority of the lease agreements were for a one-year period. The letters or notices to terminate were in fact sent in June, 2020. Then, in August, reminders were sent to each tenant. The lease agreements had long expired when notices were served,” said Maphisa.
Full report in The Mercury
Full report in The Mercury