North West health workers shut down offices after Lekalakala's reinstatement

North West health department head Thabo Lekalakala.
North West health department head Thabo Lekalakala.

Health workers in North West on Monday kicked their colleagues out of the government building as they protested the reinstatement of head of department Dr Thabo Lekalakala. This unfolded after Lekalakala, who had been placed on special leave, arrived at the offices to resume his work.

Moroesi Mogotsi, a representative of the workers, said they will only go back to work once Lekalakala has been fired. The public health and social development sectoral bargaining council issued an arbitration verdict on November 8 ordering the provincial health department to reinstate Lekalakala.

He was suspended in April and later forced to take a special leave after he was accused of benefiting from the Gupta-linked Mediosa company.

Mogotsi said they received correspondence at the weekend alerting them that the administrator Jeanette Hunter wanted to explain why Lekalakala was back at work. Hunter was appointed after the department was placed under section 100.

Mogotsi said they were not happy after Hunter arrived late and could not answer their questions. She then allegedly abandoned the meeting. “We will wait for Jeannette to come back to the meeting she had called, we will knock off and come back tomorrow," said Mogotsi.

North West health department spokesperson Tebogo Lekgethwane confirmed that Lekalakala was back at work, noting that the administrator had a meeting with employees to explain his return.

“We wanted to explain to them that his return was the decision of the court and emphasise that, that does not mean the allegations against him are cancelled,” said Lekgethwane.

He said those allegations were still being investigated. “A disciplinary committee has been appointed and he [Lekalakala] will go through a disciplinary process."

Lekalakala said he had held a fruitful meeting with Hunter on Monday morning. “We discussed and shared the duties. I am back,” said Lekalakala.

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