Union displeased by assaulted nurse’s dismissal

Union displeased by assaulted nurse’s dismissalNEHAWU is unhappy with the dismissal of a Tembisa Hospital nurse who was assaulted by one of the hospital's managers. (File Photo)

The National Educators and Health Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) isn’t happy with the manner in which the case of a nurse who was allegedly assaulted by a nursing manager, was handled.

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The criminal case against the manager was withdrawn by the Tembisa magistrate’s court while an internal investigation by the hospital resulted in the dismissal of the nurse instead of her manager.

Thuli Hlatswayo was allegedly assaulted by nursing manager Wilfred Mothwane following a disagreement regarding her work schedule at Tembisa Hospital. At the time, Hlatswayo alleged that the attempt to change her schedule was to frustrate her after she had participated in a picket at the hospital.

There are more questions than answers

The union’s chairperson at the hospital, Thobekani Dakamnyama questions how the hospital handled the matter since November 2018, when the alleged assault took place.

“Our member was assaulted last year and the hearing only happened in August this year. We are disappointed that Wilfred Mothwane was allowed to continue working despite having had criminal charges brought against him.”

She alleges this compromised the internal investigation that the hospital instituted.

“Mothwane is a manager and he abused his position by removing Thuli Hlatswayo (the nurse) from the ward where she had been working for years, to the Medical Outpatient Ward (MOW), where he could torment her every time he passed by her work station. Another thing is that witnesses were his juniors and he probably influenced them during the investigation since he was working at the time.”

Procedures were followed, hospital says

Hospital spokesperson, Nothando Mdluli says that the internal investigation was procedural from the time a complaint of assault was laid against Mothwane. 

“The labour relations office appointed an independent external investigator to conduct a thorough and balanced investigation.”

The investigation cleared Mothwane of the assault allegations made by Hlatswayo and the hospital saw no reason to disallow him to work.

“The findings of the investigation recommended that Hlatswayo be the one to be charged for misconduct for gross dishonesty, giving a false statement of assault against Mothwane. This then culminated to a disciplinary hearing where she was found guilty and therefore dismissed.”

An appeal has been made

The union has lodged an appeal with the office of the MEC.

“We have appealed the decision taken by the hospital with the MEC’s office and we are waiting for an outcome from him,” says Dakamnyama.

Mdluli says that the MEC has got time to consider the appeal. “The appeal is within the prescribed timeframe for consideration of appeals of 30 days.”

The criminal case against Mothwane, postponed eight times, was dismissed and the union is seeking legal advice.

“We don’t understand why the court took that decision but we are going to seek legal advice regarding this. A woman cannot be assaulted at work for the perpetrator to just walk free without the case ever being heard in court. This entire case was not handled well and our member has been left traumatised by the entire process.” – Health-e News