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Protesters deny patients medicine collection at Tshepong hospital

26 April 2018 - 12:53 By Katharine Child
Dr Ebrahim Variava, who is being blocked from entering Tshepong hospital.
Dr Ebrahim Variava, who is being blocked from entering Tshepong hospital.
Image: Tiro Ramatlhatse

A thin elderly man trying to collect epilepsy medicine for the second day in a row has been turned away from Tshepong hospital in Klerksdorp‚ North West province.

"He was extremely distressed. He last collected medicine in March and has none left. We know him well‚" said Dr Alistair Calver. "He spends three days in hospital waking up from an epileptic fit if he has one."

Calver and Professor Ebrahim Variava are being denied access to Tshepong hospital to treat patients. Calver asked protesters to let the man in to get his medicine but they denied him entry.

A small crowd of National Education Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) protesters including hospital staff are denying patients who have come to fetch medicine any access.

Lizzy Ntokwe and her 16-year-old son were also turned away. The frightened skinny teenager was supposed to start TB treatment today. He left without medication.

Laboratory staff have left the hospital as Nehawu protesters have gone inside and started intimidating staff who are inside trying to work.

The 450-bed hospital is running on a skeleton staff.

When Calver and Variava tried to access the hospital‚ they were denied entry. Both are specialists in internal medicine.

As they complained about the patients being denied access‚ Nehawu's provincial shop steward told them that if they "had any compassion‚ they would drive patients to nearby Klerksdorp hospital".

Police were watching the protesters‚ who number about 50. They did not remove them from the hospital precinct.

The provincial shop steward‚ who would not give TimesLive his name‚ screamed at Variava: "When Nehawu speaks‚ you (must) listen".

Nehawu staff want North West premier Supra Mahumapelo to resign and to "stop looting". They are calling for outsourced cleaners and workers to be hired by the provincial health department.

- At lunchtime on Thursday‚ the Nehawu protesters dispersed for the long weekend‚ allowing Tshepong hospital to reopen. They indicated that they only planned to regroup on Monday next week.