Pretoria - There has been a dramatic turn of events outside Kalafong hospital after supporters of Operation Dudula who were earlier dispersed by the EFF returned in numbers to retaliate.
Police had their hands full as they fired rubber bullets to quell tension.
EFF members were forced to flee for their lives while confronted by Operation Dudula supporters who were armed with sticks and sjamboks.
They also burned EFF flags.
Members of Operation Dudula set alight EFF flags outside Kalafong hospital after clashes between the two groups over foreigners accessing medical care. @IOL #KalafongHospital #Kalafong @EFFSouthAfrica @OperationDudula #Dudula pic.twitter.com/U0cJC5cNBN— Pretoria News (@pretorianews) September 1, 2022
Earlier on Operation Dudula protesters ran helter-skelter after they were attacked by EFF members who ordered them to leave the facility premises.
The EFF said they ordered the group to leave after the police had failed enforce a court interdict obtained by the Department of Health on Friday, barring picketing outside the hospital.
For the past three weeks protesters have been preventing undocumented foreigners from assessing medical services at the facility.
EFF Gauteng spokesperson Phillip Makwala said his party members were not fighting anyone but were worried that the police were doing nothing to execute the court interdict.
The physical altercation took place in the absence of journalists who were kept in the hospital boardroom where they waited for health minister Joe Phaahla to address them.
However, according to eyewitnesses the EFF members physically attacked the protesters and forced them to leave the premises.
"If those Operation Dudula members would have entered the comrades ultra-marathon at the weekend they would have got a trophy judging by the way they were running," an eyewitness said.
Others said EFF supporters gave chase as the protesters fled the scene.
When journalists finally walked outside the hospital there was no sight of Operation Dudula protesters. It was, however, rumoured that they had gone to mobilise other members and that they might return later in the day to retaliate.
Before the fracas broke out some EFF members told the protesters to leave and stop making xenophobic remarks against other Africans and preventing them from using the health centre.
On the other hand, the protesters refused to back down on their mission to call for the hospital to prioritise the locals over foreigners.
Members of the SAPS were on standby to quell the tension.
Yesterday, the EFF condemned protesters denying migrants access to medical care, saying the action was a blatant human rightsviolation.
The party called on those responsible for preventing foreigners from receiving medical attention to be held accountable.
“The Department of Health is failing in its mandate to provide quality health care to people (and) as a result they resort to cheap propaganda that labels immigrants as responsible for the collapse of the health system.
“Migrants are not to blame for the collapse of the health system, Operation Dudula and similar elements should rather direct their anger to those found guilty of looting hospital money for skinny jeans like in the case of Tembisa hospital,” the EFF said in a media statement.
Doctors Without Borders in South Africa were worried that protests preventing patients, including migrants, from accessing the medical care amounted to xenophobia.