Nurses at a Gauteng hospital are living in fear after their colleagues were severely assaulted, allegedly by relatives of a patient who had earlier complained about alleged poor treatment by staff.
Two nurses and a security guard were assaulted in full view of patients in ward 20 at Tembisa Hospital yesterday morning.
Last year, Sowetan reported that staff at the same hospital demanded that security be beefed up after a nurse and a doctor were assaulted by patients on separate occasions.
Yesterday, a nurse who spoke to Sowetan on condition of anonymity said relatives of a female patient complained that she was not treated well and that she had told them the nurses were rude to her.
On Wednesday night the relatives were asked to return the next morning when a matron would address the issue.
She said the relatives were asked to complete a complaint form which was to be considered by the matron.
However, nurses and patients were shocked when yesterday morning four "big men" stormed the ward, demanding to see the nurse they claimed had mistreated their mother.
"They started to assault her. She fell to the ground but they continued to beat her," she said
The other nurses fled the scene but one of them tried to intervene and was also assaulted.
"We are not allowed to fight when we are on duty. Even if someone beats you up, you must just run. We are not allowed to retaliate, so we fled," said the nurse.
"The security officer who tried to help was also assaulted. They were hit all over the body."
The nurse said one of the nurses was injured on the arm and the guard was bitten on the arm.
Captain Manyadza Ralidzhivha of the Tembisa police said two suspects aged 18 and 25 were arrested and would face charges of common assault.
The attacks have left staff shaken. "We fear for our lives. I am not sure if the other nurses will come to work tonight. We are all scared because they threatened to come back for us," the nurse said.
"We are not safe at all. There is no protection in the wards. People are allowed to walk through the gate and they come in here and beat us up. We help people but they treat us like this", she said.
The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa's provincial chairman Simphiwe Gada has called for "tough action against the perpetrators".
"The attack also exposes lack of security at our facilities when health workers do their work, and the majority of whom are women," Gada said.
Gauteng department of health spokesman Steve Mabona pleaded with members of the public to stop attacking their employees.