A case of public violence has been opened after a group of protesting health workers at Bongani Hospital in the Free State blocked the entrance to the hospital on Tuesday, according to national police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo.
Naidoo said no injuries were reported after police opened fire on the workers, but National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) Free State spokesperson, Moeketsi Napo, told News24 that two workers had been injured and admitted to hospital.
This must be one of the saddest days in the SA lockdown history. I am informed the nurses at Bongani Regional Hospital, Welkom are protesting bcs they have to work without PPEs, they were being dispersed by the police with stun grenades and rubber bullets. My heart is bleeding. pic.twitter.com/7F9o1FOKl3
— Michael Sun (@MichaelSun168) March 31, 2020
The workers were protesting transportation issues, which had been made difficult due to the 21-day lockdown.
Naidoo said: “Public Order Policing contained the incident by dispersing the protesters with stun grenades and rubber bullets.”
No arrests have been made, he added.
Health workers at the hospital raised concerns about taking public transport during the lockdown.
Lockdown regulations limit the number of people who can be transported in a vehicle and, as such, workers had to pay for the remaining seats in a taxi.
After discussions with the Free State Department of Health, as well as the hospital, the government has since organised transport to take workers to and from work.
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) has confirmed that it will be investigating the matter. However, no arrests had yet been made, spokesperson Sontaga Seisa said.
(Compiled by Carina Koen)