On 10 July 2014, police arrested more than 100 community healthcare workers and Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) members following what the TAC maintains was a peaceful demonstration outside the Free State Department of Health.
The gathering was in protest of the allegedly poor state of provincial health services and the sudden dismissal of community health workers following a decision by MEC for the Free State Department of Health Benny Malakoane.
Today, 129 TAC members and community health workers are set to appear again in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court for the third time on charges of contravening the Regulations of Gatherings Act 205 of 1993.
The Cape Town-based Social Justice Coalition intends to challenge the Act’s Constitutionality, saying that the Apartheod-era legislation prevents people from engaging in legitimate forms of protest.
As the TAC calls on the National Director of Public Prosecutions to drop charges against TAC members and community healthcare workers, we take a look at faces and stories of some of those on trial.
Photographs and captions courtesy of the TACDimakatso Tsiane, 64
Home-based caregiver for people living with cancer
“We started off as just a group of women who wanted to help people who were sick and didn’t receive social grants. We helped take their children to school and we delivered food parcels to them. As a home-based caregiver, I would educate people about cancer, deliver medication…and bath those who were bedridden. I had a patient who would stand at the clinic gate every day and would only enter when he saw me. He wouldn’t allow the nurses to touch him if I wasn’t with him. Then we were told that we had to stop working. We were devastated for our patients. Now I survive on a pension grant”.
After 14 years as a Free State home-based caregiver, Tsiane was dismissed without warning or cause on 16 April 2014.