Route war scares hell out of staff

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

Work at Durban's Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital came to a standstill yesterday when nurses, clerks and cleaners downed tools for almost an hour in protest against the deadly taxi violence in the area.

Patients were left alone as the health staff toyi-toyied outside the hospital.

They sang freedom songs and hoisted placards with complaints that their lives were in danger due to the ongoing and deadly violence between the Cato Manor and Chesterville taxi associations.

Hospital staff yesterday related harrowing experiences of their trips to work.

Many said they had been caught in the crossfire between the rivals and had seen several people being shot dead.

"Our lives are in danger because of the ongoing violence between the rival associations.

"All we want is safety when we come to work," they said in a joint memorandum handed to hospital chief executive officer Fikisiwe Zondi.

They gave the hospital management three days to respond to their demands and threatened to return to the streets if they did not get what they wanted.

Nehawu spokesman Super Zuma said: "Our shop steward has been in contact with management over the issue since their lives are in danger.

"Workers are being affected by the ongoing violence," he said.

"The workers' responsibility is to save the lives of the patients but they work under stressful conditions. They do not know how they will get home after work.

"And their lives are always at risk."

Health department spokesman Sebe Zwane acknowledged receipt of the memorandum .

She said the department would engage stakeholders and affected departments so that the challenge could be addressed soon.

"After the staff handed over their memorandum the situation went back to normal," she said.