A 32-year-old patient allegedly stabbed Doctor Senzosenkosi Mkhize in the chest last Tuesday at the hospital. He was transferred to a nearby private hospital in a critical condition and later died.
‘We would like to categorically condemn the Mpumalanga Provincial Government for making false assurances to the public whilst they continue to leave the health workers of Middelburg Hospital unsafe and unprotected. It is unacceptable that politicians continue to play spin-doctor, trying to pacify public outrage at the security crises’ of public hospitals, whilst our health workers remain unsafe,’ Judasa said in a statement.
Following the attack, Health MEC Dikeledi Mahlangu’s office issued an assurance that the police would be deployed at the hospital to keep health workers safe. According to Judasa, police only show up at the hospital occasionally. They said the so-called ‘heavy police presence’ was only present when the MEC visited the hospital.
Judasa claimed that in a separate incident at Middelburg hospital an aggressive patient threatened to rape and kill a nurse, but other health care workers had overpowered him.
‘We call on the Mpumalanga Provincial Government to put health workers’ lives ahead of entrepreneurship and fire the Middelburg Hospital security company with immediate effect, and then replace it with competent security to keep our health workers safe.’ Judasa said.
They also called on all health care workers and concerned members of the public to join them in their march to the Union Buildings tomorrow (WED). Judasa declared the day a national day of mourning. Among their demands is the immediate installation of metal detectors at hospital doors and doing away with private security. They want hospital employed security to be brought back. Judasa said skeleton staff would be on duty during the march.
‘We have run out of patience to mourn the killing, raping and mugging of doctors at South African public hospitals. We can no longer afford to wait until another doctor’s life is put in danger at their place of work,’ said Judasa president, Dr Tende Makofane. He said the department of health had ignored the association’s previous requests to install metal detectors at all hospital entry points.
Doctors were being treated like second-class citizens in their own country, he said. ‘If a politician got raped or killed within the premises of the Union Buildings or Parliament, not only will they call in the army to beef up their already tight security, but they would declare it a national crisis.’
Spokesperson for the Minister of Health, Fidel Hadebe said the issue of metal detectors at entry points was not ignored, but it is in the overall plan to upgrade security at public hospitals. He said the department regrets what had happened at the Middleburg Hospital.
Mpumulanga Safety and Security MEC Vusi Shongwe condemned the attack: ‘Access control at hospitals is the duty of the security guards posted there and they should make sure that people accessing the facilities are always checked to ensure that everybody is safe
Judasa is a special interest group of the South African Medical Association which was formed in 1992 to address the needs and challenges faced by junior doctors within South Africa.