The North West department of health has welcomed the arrival of the South African Military Health Services wing to the province’s health facilities, particularly around Mahikeng amid ongoing violent protests by residents calling for the removal of premier Supra Mahumapelo.
Members of the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) have been on strike in the province since February 26, demanding the dismissal of the head of department of health, Dr Thabo Lekalakala, the termination of contracts for companies issued by the department, a bonus payment of five percent for all employees in the department, among others.
The strike has paralysed health services in the provincial capital Mahikeng, igniting mass protests after two people died at Motshioa Stad clinic on Tuesday.
Mahumapelo suspended Lekalakala on Thursday after the release of a preliminary report into allegations of impropriety against him in the warding of a department of health contract to Mediosa, which is linked to the controversial Gupta family.
In a statement on Saturday, the department’s spokesperson Tebogo Lekgethwane said: “It’s been weeks since the province has been experiencing unprecedented pressure on the health system due to disruptions that occurred in a number of health facilities. The latest community protests contributed immensely to the challenges faced by the department.”
Lekgethwane said the environment had not been conducive for some of the department’s health professionals especially nurses, to provide uninterrupted health services as they feared for their lives since the protests started.
“MEC Dr Magome Masike has since been engaged in talks with the National Ministry, the SANDF and authorities in the country to avail the services of the military health services.”
– Additional reporting African News Agency