Durban protesters clash with police

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

The continued public sector strike turned nasty in Durban yesterday when a scuffle broke out between protesters and the police at Addington Hospital.

The scuffle started after more than 200 protesters, who had gathered in front of the hospital, denied patients and doctors access to the hospital, and refused to disperse.

Police allegedly fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at the protesters. Twelve people were arrested and three injured. But the police have denied shooting.

Superintendent Vincent Mdunge said they only used a stun grenade to disperse the crowd of people who were breaking the law.

"The court order states that they can picket 500m away from the gates. The patients were under siege and we had to protect them," said Mdunge.

But S'the Tshete, regional spokesman for Nehawu, said police attacked their members who were protesting peacefully. He said Nehawu members did not threaten anyone.

"We want this 12percent and we are not backing down. If they want to fire us, they can go ahead," he said.

Zantombi Mkhize, an employee at the hospital and a shop steward, said: "We were at the gate when police arrived and told us to move away from the gate."

Mkhize said when she went to inform the protesters "police started shooting".

Meanwhile, Siyabonga Cele, public relations officer at King Edward Hospital, said only 3 percent of the staff reported for duty yesterday.

"The situation is bad. Doctors now work 24-hour shifts and are forced to clean and feed the patients. We had to transfer other patients to private hospitals."