Caregivers stage protest over stipends

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caregivers protest march 24 Independent Newspapers Healthcare workers make their feelings known outside the ANC headquarters in central Joburg. Picture: Wesley Fester

Johannesburg -

Hundreds of caregivers marched to the ANC’s Luthuli House headquarters and the Department of Health offices in central Joburg on Monday, claiming they had not been paid for the past six months.

The caregivers, also known as community health workers, marched in protest over alleged non-payment of their R2 260 monthly stipends.

Security guards closed the doors hastily as the marchers descended, singing struggle songs and waving placards.

A protester, Nomsa Mazibuko, brandished a placard mocking the ANC’s “We have a good story to tell” election campaign slogan.

The poster read: “Not been paid for six months is not a good story to tell Mr President.”

The caregivers, from the Othwandweni Development Service in Pretoria, care for bedridden TB and HIV-positive patients. They had travelled from Pretoria to voice their grievances.

Masindi Mkhize was among them. Her contract expires at the end of this month.

She said the officials had promised them three-month contracts even though they had not been paid for the past six months.

She said their contracts stipulated they would receive R2 260 monthly stipends. “Since then we have not been paid a single cent. We work very hard, taking care of the sick. We have to make sure they take their medication. We are working very hard and they are not paying us,” said Mkhize angrily.

One of the protesters, who did not want to be identified, accused the government of abusing them. “When the time for elections comes, they remember us. I’m not going to vote if this matter is not resolved soon,” she said.

But Health Department spokesman Simon Zwane denied the caregivers had not been paid, saying the department’s books showed “we are up to date with the payment”.

He said an audit would determine whether everyone had been paid accordingly.

Earlier this month, the caregivers - who were protesting over alleged non-payment of their monthly stipends - tried to storm Luthuli House. The police fired teargas in an attempt to keep them away.

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