Health services at Mantobello Hospital on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast came to a standstill yesterday as hundreds of locals blocked the entrance.
Many of the sick were prevented from entering the hospital and others had to seek treatment at another hospital. Some returned home. More than 300 locals protested outside the gates complaining about locals being overlooked for job opportunities at the hospital. They also complained about the poor health service at the hospital, saying senior nurses were leaving because of poor working conditions.
Police and private security officers were called in to monitor the situation but their presence didn't deter the determined community.
Khanyisile Mathobela said that they had applied for jobs at the hospital for the past eight years, but nothing had come of it.
"We are sick and tired of the hospital management. They employ friends, relatives and strangers for simple jobs such as clerks and security," she said.
"The hospital doesn't have an ambulance service and when someone is sick, they are forced to wait for the ambulance from nearby Appelsbosch Hospital.
"In some instances people have died while waiting for the ambulance," she said.
Leon Mbangwa, spokesman for the provincial department of health, condemned the actions of the locals.
"Health institutions require professionals and they can't hire a person just because he or she is a local," he said.
He said he was not aware of the hospital not having an ambulance service.