Phaahla condemns acts of violence at Themba Hospital in Mpumalanga

Friday, April 19, 2024

Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla, says he has noted with concern and has condemned the acts of anarchy, violence and criminality targeting healthcare facilities to disrupt the provision of essential health services and depriving patients of lifesaving treatment. 

This comes after members of a local business forum who were disgruntled about procurement processes recently allegedly attacked healthcare workers at Themba Hospital in Kabokweni, Mpumalanga. 

Reports suggest that the hospital had to be closed for almost three weeks due to the unrest which forced doctors to down tools. 

According to Phaahla, these acts that threaten the safety and security of the health workers, patients, service providers and infrastructure are unacceptable and will not be tolerated. 

“We welcome the swift response and interventions by members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and other law enforcement agencies to normalise the situation to enable the health workers to perform their lifesaving duties in a safe and protected environment without disruption and acts of violence.”  

According to the Minister, government will continue to respond proportionally to these criminal acts to protect those who need help in the hospital, the healthcare workers and the infrastructure. 

“We are already working with the SAPS to ensure that healthcare service continues undisrupted and prevent future incidences. We want to assure the healthcare workers and community at large that similar acts will not happen unattended and will be responded with speed and appropriately,” said Phaahla.  

The department and the SAPS signed a Memorandum of Agreement in 2019 committing to cooperate to ensure the security and safety of patients, workers in the health facility and the entire infrastructure. 

“The SAPS in response to criminality in the health facility will deploy a dedicated team to ensure the security of the facility.” 

Phaahla has called on anyone with evidence of unethical behaviour by health officials and who has concerns about the level of service delivery or operations to raise them through proper channels instead of resorting to violence and intimidation. 

“We will not entertain any form of anarchy and feeling of entitlement in our facilities because we follow normal procurement processes like any other public institution. 

“We implore people to exercise their constitutional rights to protest peacefully within the confines of the law, without infringing the rights to life by others and access to healthcare,” he stressed.  

In addition, the Minister confirmed that no life has been lost at the facility due to the recent violent incidents. 

However, several patients could not access their chronic medication and some planned surgeries had to be rescheduled, while other patients were transferred to nearby hospitals and stable patients were discharged. 

“The situation is now under control and the hospital is fully operational. Staff members are back at work.” –