Ms Thandi Nontenja
UDEMWO Secretary General

The United Democratic Movement Women’s Organisation (UDEMWO) is extremely concerned over the ongoing, illegal strike by mortuary workers; especially in Gauteng.

UDEMWO feels uncomfortable using the phrase: “bodies are piling up”; but that is a hard fact – there is no delicate way to describe this atrocious situation.

Families are already distressed over losing their loved ones and are now subjected to a prolonged wait before they can give them a dignified burial. Aside from the morality of what is happening, with forensic pathology officers downing tools; the growing backlog of autopsies has surely degenerated into a health risk.

The families must not suffer and continue being in anguish for something that could have been avoided. If the striking workers have been given a final warning to resume their normal duties or face disciplinary action as they are in contradiction of a 2016 Labour Court interdict judgement, why does the powers-that-be tolerate the situation?

The Gauteng health department continues to be in the news for all the wrong reasons. If it is not money laundering, it is patients who die because of departmental incompetence (Life Esidimeni); a lack of medical professionals in state hospitals, over-exerted staff, as well a drug shortages, medical supplies and equipment.

Without even discussing the merits of the workers’ grievances, enough is enough. The national department of health must act speedily and solve the on-going problem; it is clear that the Gauteng health department is not getting anywhere.

Our health departments exist to help those in need but instead, fail at every turn and is in breach of the South African Constitution which clearly states that: “Everyone has the right to have access to health care services”. “Everyone has a right to dignity.” Maybe the Constitution does not go far enough and should include the word “quality”. This is in violation of Human Rights.

Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, must pull up his socks, those of his MECs, as well as departmental officials (at both national and provincial levels); those who fail to do their jobs must be given the boot and replaced with competent professionals.

Statement issued by Thandi Nontenja – UDEMWO Secretary General