The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) took to the streets of Newcastle, saying they are, amongst other grievances, marching for better service delivery at both government hospitals: Newcastle Provincial Hospital and Madadeni Hospital.

The EFF members marched from the Newcastle High School gates, to the Newcastle Provincial Hospital main entrance.

In a memorandum handed over to the hospital’s management team, EFF said it came to their attention that Madadeni hospital is overcrowded and finds it hard to cope with all the residents of Newcastle.

They also said that there have been reports of people being transported from Newcastle to Madadeni, and reaching Madadeni already dead or in a much worse condition than they were.

EFF’s Musa Thwala, in the EFF executive council in Newcastle, said the changing of hospitals has also affected a lot of people. The Newcastle hospital has changed from accommodating all sick people, to being a hospital for children only, while the Madadeni now accommodates all ill patients.

Thwala said there are also not enough doctors and nurses to accommodate all the overcrowding in these hospitals. He added that privatization of hospitals is not helping community members. Thwala said the constant construction taking place at these hospitals was also not contributing to any betterment of the community. EFF Chief Whip in Newcastle, Mongezi Thwala, said they are marching on behalf of their parents, sisters and brothers, who couldn’t make it to the march.

Mongezi said a struggle that is led by the youth like themselves, will always be sustainable. He said all nurses at the provincial hospital are exploited by the system, and said the nurses also had their own issues, which they still address. He also added they are aware of another strike by the kitchen staff that took place at the provincial hospital about two weeks ago. The kitchen staff were complaining about the dirty water that they were expected to use to cook for the hospital’s patients, saying they would rather not cook. EFF cited that the hospital’s management didn’t care about this water situation because they could afford private hospital fees, where they can get clean water, while the black population go to public hospitals and die.

EFF said they also want to do away with private companies that are given tenders. They have demanded a total scraping of the tender system at the Newcastle Provincial hospital. The hospital’s management received the memorandum and was expected to respond within seven days. Comment from the hospitals was not forthcoming at the time of going to press.