“We are short staffed and overworked. This is the third march this year.”
Hundreds of nurses from across KwaZulu-Natal marched to the provincial legislature deamanding better working conditions. Photo: Nompendulo Ngubane
“We are nurses not slaves,” said disgruntled nurse Bongekile Khomo. “I have to take care of 60 patients in one ward. We work under bad conditions in hospitals. Most of the time there are no resources.”
Khomo was one of hundreds of nurses from across KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) who marched to the provincial legislature in Pietermaritzburg on Monday. They want MEC Health Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo to be removed.
“Can we get a MEC who knows what he is doing?” asked Khomo. “This is the third march this year. We are short staffed and overworked.”
Most of the nurses who marched from Alexandra Park to the legislature are part of the KZN United Nurses Forum. Placards read: “Rest in Peace Dhlomo” and “Dhlomo must fall”.
KZN United Nurses Forum organiser Bhekithemba Gumbi said, “We have instances where nurses are being attacked by the relatives of the patients. People think nurses are lazy or incompetent. That is not true … The community fight with nurses, accusing them of being negligent. That is because nurses are short staffed in health institutions.”
“The department introduced a shared task policy,” said nurse Mluleki Shezi. “We should be paid for that … A nurse will spend hours interpreting for a doctor [who does not speak Zulu]. That time should be spent on attending patients not interpreting … The ones working in rural areas are suffering the most. We are tired. They have two weeks to attend to our matters. If they don’t report back to us, we will shut down all the hospitals.”
Zithembiso Nzuza accepted the memorandum on behalf of the speaker of the KZN legislature. Nzuza said they are aware that a memorandum was handed over to the office of the premier in May. “The legislature monitors how government works. We followed up that the memorandum was received by the office of the premier. It was reported that the premier tasked the the department to attend to the issues,” said Nzuza.
The health department had not responded to a request for comment by time of publication.