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Rustenberg - Four workers of the North West department of health are facing criminal charges, the department said on Tuesday. 

"North West department of health can confirm that a criminal case has been opened against four of its employees. The four are charged with misuse of fire extinguishers and intimidation of fellow employees," department spokesperson Tebogo Lekgethwane said.

"These are the same employees who were placed on precautionary suspension. Their precautionary suspension has since been withdrawn.

"The fire extinguishers emptied and the emergency cleaning that was required has caused financial loss to the department. This is fruitless and wasteful expenditure which could have been avoided. The actions of the employees concerned necessitate action to recover the money lost,"  he said.

The workers allegedly discharged fire extinguishers, protesting against the return of the head of department Dr Thabo Lekalakala who had been suspended.

Lekalakala returned to work on 19 November 2018 after the arbitration outcome which nullified his special leave, but was confronted by toyi-toying workers who wanted him fired.

Lekgethwane said an internal disciplinary hearing against the four workers would continue.

African News Agency/ANA