This potential move comes after a shooting incident that occurred at St Rita’s Hospital in Sekhukhune, where a man shot and wounded his wife and son at the casualty ward this past week. Added to safety concerns that incident caused is the tragic death of the young intern doctor, Dr Shongile Pretty Nkhwashu, who was found dead in her flat at Mankweng Hospital this past week.
DENOSA Chairperson, Lesiba Monyaki, expressed his disappointment at the shooting at St Rita’s Hospital, and questioned the integrity of security present.
“We are very saddened by this incident. As DENOSA we have been complaining about the state of safety and security at our facilities. It’s shameful because it happened in a sensitive department — casualty. We are thankful that no one lost their lives and that none of our staff members was injured though they were emotionally affected. However, it raises questions on the state of security. How was the security breached?
Monyaki continued: “As far as we know, in that casualty, there is burglar-proofing so that when a patient arrives with relatives and friends, they are not allowed to go through without security checks. We are confused about what happened.”
Monyaki threatened to remove nurses at facilities if the department doesn’t come up with a plan to safeguard staff members at the hospital.
“As a province, we want a plan and implementation thereof, because we don’t want this to happen at any other facility. If the problem persists, we don’t have any other alternative than to instruct our members to stop working because the environment is not safe. There must be a written commitment from the department, action must be taken as soon as possible and it must clear to everyone. Without that, we do not have any choice but to pull out our workers,” he said.
Monyaki went further to question the competency level of the security company.
“We are investigating the matter, and also how the company was offered the tender. If it was misconduct by the security officers, the company should be removed and the department must hire an accredited company that will comply to safety standards and safeguard the livelihoods of the staff and our patients,” Monyaki said.
Monyaki believes the department should hire and train their own security officers because some security companies are incompetent, which then leads to these kinds of security breaches. Reiterating the statement issued by DENOSA’s national office after the shooting of a patient at Clairwood Hospital in Durban, Monyaki demands in-sourcing of security services, installation of boom gates and installation of CCTV and panic buttons, amongst other safety precautions.
After Nkhwashu’s passing, Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, addressed medical interns at Mankweng Hospital. According to a report by SABC, Mkhize said that the incident was not due to security issues, as Nkhwashu knew the murder suspect.
He did, however, highlight the department’s role in safety and security at health facilities, in a bid to reassure staff.
“I want to assure you that having looked at the circumstances, what we have seen here is an effort by the hospital to improve the security, and I have seen the new fence that has been put up. Of course we have been discussing the issue of security in hospitals and we have to do everything to make sure that not only the staff but the patients as well, and relatives of patients, are safe in hospitals,” he said.
“We are sitting together with the heads of departments in various provinces and discussing various strategies on how to strengthen and reinforce security in hospital,” Mkhize concluded.