Penwell Dlamini, Elisha Molefe and Sipho Masombuka

Penwell Dlamini, Elisha Molefe and Sipho Masombuka

It appears that doctors are going to defy calls by the government and the interdict stopping them from striking.

Over the weekend several branches of the South African Medical Association held meetings pondering steps they would take on the court interdict.

There were no doctors in several hospitals as a result of the consultation.

Gauteng department of health spokesperson JP Louw said the department was considering dismissing doctors who continued to strike.

Louw said that yesterday all doctors returned to work with the exception of those at George Mukhari and Jubilee hospitals.

A total of 336 doctors from Mukhari Hospital and 24 from Jubilee were under consideration for dismissal, said Louw.

On Friday the labour court in Johannesburg granted an interdict ordering doctors to return to work.

The North West province won a similar application on Saturday.

Doctors are demanding that the government implement the Occupational Specific Dispensation, a programme aimed at improving doctors' wages and working conditions.

Doctors around the country have engaged in strikes to speed up their overdue payments.

Yesterday doctors at the George Mukhari Hospital in GaRankuwa, near Pretoria, vowed not to suspend their unprotected strike, defying the court interdict.

A striking doctor at the hospital, who did not want be named, said the department had used a number of scare tactics to force them into submission.

"For the past week several doctors have been receiving court orders and we have been given ultimatums, but we will not budge," she said.

"We do not care what the department does because we know that we have valid grievances.

"We will not go back to work until the state addresses our grievances," said the doctor.

The situation at affected hospitals is deteriorating with out-patients being turned away and hospitalised patients being left unattended as the strike entered its second week.

At Bophelong Hospital in the Vaal everything looked well from the outside, but inside patients were suffering.

Maria, 58, a TB patient from Lomanyane village, said that she had not received any treatment from the doctors since she was admitted last Monday, and intends leaving soon.

One of the doctors at the hospital told Sowetan that they would not go back to work despite the interdict.