Premature babies left unattended

AT LEAST 53 premature babies were left unattended in some Gauteng hospitals during the public sector strike on Monday, Premier Nomvula Mokonyane told the legislature yesterday.

"When I visited some of the hospitals that were severely affected by the strike, I was told shocking stories of 53 premature babies who were left unattended when striking workers forced nursing staff to leave their posts," she said.

"Some of the babies were literally locked in the wards with no one bothering to make alternative arrangements for their care."

Mokonyane said while she understood that workers had a right to strike, it was wrong of them to disrespect the rights of babies.

"We all respect the right of workers to strike, but they must also respect the Constitutional right of these babies to live," she said.

Mokonyane said the government was grateful and thankful for the support it received.

"Government is very heartened by the volunteers, including professionals who selflessly offered their services to care for those in need when the striking government workers abandoned their posts.

"From the bottom of our hearts we say thank you for what you are doing to help us through this difficult period."