MINISTER of Human Settlements Tokyo Sexwale has lambasted striking doctors, saying their actions show they value money more than lives.
Sexwale was speaking at a function in Eshowe on Friday, where he appeared with Premier Zweli Mkhize to hand houses to needy beneficiaries.
"How can you strike against a government that is only five weeks old? These doctors need to bear in mind that this government is new," he said.
"There must be something wrong in their heads. If you are a doctor you know that you can't strike because of the service you render.
"These doctors need to be educated. People need them. HIV and Aids are ravaging people so it's not on for them to go on strike. We know they are human beings, but they must put people first before money."
He asked Mkhize to intervene. "Mkhize, you are a doctor and in charge of this province. You must intervene in this problem," he said.
Meanwhile, KwaZulu-Natal MEC for health Sibongiseni Dhlomo said he was concerned that "90percent of the public-service doctors, dentists and pharmacists" in the province were still on strike.
Dhlomo said the strike did not comply with the Labour Relations Act.
"We think we have been more than reasonable in dealing with an unprotected strike. We have met with various stakeholders, including union representatives, in trying to resolve the situation and have consulted widely with all quarters.
"We have reminded them that the consequences of this unprotected strike have far-reaching negative outcomes to the health of the people in the province.
"Lives have been lost; our people have been turned away from hospitals because of the absence of doctors."
Dhlomo said the government "knew" that some striking doctors had gone to Gauteng, Eastern Cape and Western Cape to ask doctors there to join the unprotected strike.
"There have been threats and intimidation against those who have been working and want to go back to work.
"Our government has apologised profusely for the way doctors' salaries have not been revised over years."
l The Health department has obtained a court interdict and given striking medics an ultimatum to return to work.