Strike terrifies mental health patients in North West
A group of workers staged a strike at Witrand psychiatric hospital in Potchefstroom trashing several sections in the facility and terrifying mental health patients.
A source told Spotlight that the strike started yesterday and that patients, some who have been at the institution for 20 years and know no other home, were traumatised by the violent behaviour from some protestors.
Information shared with Spotlight claimed that among others the kitchen was trashed and food strewn all over the floor, offices were damaged with furniture overturned and files thrown on the floor and corridors in the hospital were strewn with overturned furniture, litter and other objects.
Sources said that the hospital gate had been blocked by Nehawu protestors and that doctors and visitors were denied entry to see patients.
Spotlight understands that hospital staff and patients trapped inside were panicking and that the police had to be called.
National Health Education & Allied Workers Union secretary in North West Patrick Makhafane confirmed that their members had “withdrawn their labour”, but denied that they were responsible for the damage to property and upsetting patients.
However, when questioned further he said that workers had been “provoked” for a long time and that they could not be blamed for reacting.
He said they had been “harassed for many years” and their “anger had reached a maximum point”.
He blamed the hospital CEO Naledi Mocwaledi and accused her of harassing and targeting Nehawu members. He said the last straw was when two shop stewards were suspended by management, but did not disclose what the charges were.
Makhafane said the strike was called off after the MEC met with workers at the hospital.
Tebogo Lekgethwane, Spokesperson for the North West Department of Health, confirmed that the MEC today met with the striking workers to hear there concerns and that the strike was called off after the meeting. He said that details of the agreement would be shared in a media statement to be released later in the day. According to Lekgethwane there will be another meeting with workers at the facility on Monday.