Health MEC threatens workers
Durban - In a strong act of defiance, dozens of emergency service workers toyi-toyied in front of Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo at the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
The group, believed to be on a go-slow, said they had come to court to support their “leader” Sifiso Dlamini and had legitimate grievances the department needed to address.
The group of people, some of whom had placards including one which read “Pay back the money, Dhlomo”, sang loudly as Dhlomo spoke to journalists outside court.
Dlamini, who was dismissed from the department two years ago, appeared in court on Monday charged with intimidation in connection with illegal strike action this year.
His release on bail was opposed by the State as it said there were other allegations that the police needed to investigate against him.
Emergency workers had packed the courtroom and Dlamini, who looked calm in the dock, raised his fist when one worker shouted a message of support.
Dhlomo said it was “mind boggling” that Dlamini had managed to mobilise so many workers to support him.
“They are coming to support an alleged saboteur and intimidator.”
He said the workers, who had come to court, showed that they had no regard for their jobs.
“They are supposed to be at work. I do not think we need these people. The head of department is going to take action against them. They have made a choice: it is more important for them to support Dlamini at the expense of them providing a service to the public. They have dismissed themselves.”
The department said some of the incidents of vandalism and intimidation by workers included:
* The burning of two ambulances in the uThungulu district last month.
* The partial burning of an ambulance in Newlands West last Thursday.
* The stoning of a vehicle carrying patients, including a pregnant woman, in Empangeni last week.
* Alleged intimidation of workers in the eThekwini, uThungulu and Hluhluwe regions.
The department said it had taken contingency measures to deal with the illegal strike.
One of the workers, who asked not to be named, said their grievances with the department dated from 2012.
He said they wanted to be paid occupation specific dispensations (OSD) and to receive a danger allowance. They also had a problem with an increase in their working hours, he said.
The worker alleged Dlamini was dismissed after he raised the workers’ problems and they were also not afraid to lose their jobs.
“They are taking our money when they should be paying us. So we are not worried about being dismissed,” he said.
Dlamini is to appear in court next week for a formal bail application. He was remanded to the Durban Central police station.