No disciplinary action has been taken against the workers who disrupted and trashed the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital in May last year, and no one has yet been arrested despite criminal charges laid and the availability of CCTV coverage.
This shock information has been revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.
People were outraged by the scenes of trash in the hospital corridors and horror tales of doctors and nurses locking themselves in wards for safety.
Rocks were used to disrupt ambulances transporting patients, and tyres were burnt in front of the hospital. These violent actions were by workers complaining about unpaid bonuses.
Former Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said it was “pure hooliganism” and that anyone who tried to stop staff doing their duties was a “murderer”. He said he would be consulting with the Police Minister to arrest those responsible.
The then Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa was even more dramatic saying: “This is another Life Esidimeni unfolding.”
But more than a year later the Gauteng Health Department says “no formal disciplinary action taken yet” as “investigating ofﬁcers appointed but there were delays resuming investigations.”
Criminal cases were opened at the Hillbrow Police Station for public disturbance/violence, and malicious damage to property, but there have been no arrests as “the police are still investigating.”
I am outraged at the inexcusable delay in disciplinary and police action even though 16 employees were identiﬁed by the CCTV cameras, and are still working for the hospital.
How can it be that workers who threatened others and caused damage of more than R3 million are still working for the hospital? There has to be accountability and consequences, otherwise people will feel free to trash the hospital again when they have another grievance.
It is unfortunately typical that there is high-powered rhetoric that arrests will follow whenever law and order breaks down, but this seldom happens and it’s even less likely that it will get to court because of police incompetence.
I suspect that the Department has tried to cover this up, but I will pursue this relentlessly to ensure that the culprits are fired and appear in court for their disgusting acts in a place of healing.