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2018 Media Statements

NEHAWU Rejects EFF Populist And Trite Remarks

Friday March 2, 2018

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] rejects the silly remarks made by the Economic Freedom Fighters [EFF] to suggest that we were somehow involved in the Life Esidimeni tragedy.

During a march to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital on Wednesday the leader of the EFF, Julius Malema, said “We don’t want a repeat of Life Esidimeni. You cannot have a minister who says I didn’t know. So, it’s not true that the minister didn’t know about Life Esidimeni and Bara, and we know those people are arrogant because they are related to ANC and Nehawu.”

It is ludicrous and unbecoming to suggest that we were involved in the death of the patients who were transferred from Life Esidimeni to private NGO’s. The national union on numerous occasions tried to warn the former MEC, Qedani Mahlangu, about the dangers of moving patients to unlicensed homes that did not have the required skills or resources to care for patients with chronic mental illnesses but our calls fell on deaf ears. We want to put it unequivocally clear that, guided by our opposition to outsourcing we were vehemently opposed to the transferring of patients to unlicensed homes. In actual fact, our members lost their jobs due to the closure of both Life Esidimeni and Clinix Selby.

As NEHAWU we want to reiterate that the relocation of patients took place even though the Gauteng Department of Health was well aware of the impending disaster and nothing was done to try avert the tragedy. At the centre of the relocation was the issue of cost cutting by the department. The department outsourced the care of mental health patients which is a core responsibility of the department as part of caring for those who are vulnerable in the society.

We view these remarks as very unfortunate and a silly attempt at garnering votes for the 2019 elections. NEHAWU has been at the forefront of the highlighting the bad state of our public health. As a union organising in that sector we have a first-hand experience of the horrible state of the sector. Our members who are at the coal-face of the sector are dealing with the brunt of the crisis on a daily basis. It is NEHAWU that has gallantly fought against the non-filling of vacant post in the public service. We have unremittingly underscored the dangers of short staffing and its bad impact of quality service delivery. We have consistently exposed corruption wherever it rears its ugly head. Currently, we are waging a an unrelenting war on corruption in the North West Provincial Department, Mpumalanga, Free State, Gauteng and all other areas where corruption seems to be rife.

The national union through its national public service delivery campaign will continue to pay special focus in the public health sector working with components of the alliance and communities to ensure that our people receive quality services and that they are treated with dignity.

Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat
Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968;
December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969;
Khaya Xaba (NEHAWU Media Liaison Officer) at 082 455 2500A
or email: Visit NEHAWU website:

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