MEC should be arrested, not KZN’s forensic pathology workers – DA KZN

Imran Keeka says horrific situation at mortuary a direct result of Dhlomo’s ongoing disregard for workers’ grievances

MEC Dhlomo should be arrested, not KZN’s forensic pathology workers

7 December 2018

The Democratic Alliance calls on KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Willies Mchunu, to urgently respond as the crisis within the province’s mortuary sector gathers momentum.

As of last night, the DA was aware of 40 bodies waiting for post-mortems at the Gale Street mortuary and a further 27 at the Phoenix facility. This horrific situation is a direct result of Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo’s ongoing disregard for workers’ grievances.

While some post- mortems are being conducted at Gale Street, staff say they will completely stop work on Monday despite threats of arrest from the MEC if they do this. Other facilities have meanwhile confirmed that they will continue with their go-slows.

The DA has also been reliably informed that the MEC allegedly granted permission to a prominent family in the Pietermaritzburg area to enter that city’s mortuary -armed with a range of weapons - to collect the body of their loved one and take it to Durban for a post-mortem. This is not the first time the MEC has entertained thuggery.

Earlier this week, MEC Dhlomo presented a report to the KZN provincial Executive Council (EC) regarding the forensic pathology crisis in the province. To date, the Premier has been unresponsive apart from a statement in which he expressed the Council's consternation. This is ironic given that this exact problem was in fact engineered by a member of that Council – MEC Dhlomo.

While the DA has not had sight of the report, we suspect that MEC Dhlomo would have laid blame at the door of the forensic pathology workers. If this is the case then his actions are truly appalling. In fact, it is the MEC’s ongoing attempts to shift the blame that should really shock the EC.

The DA has also been reliably informed that a meeting with the National Health Department and union representatives, attended by provincial representatives due to MEC Dhlomo’s absence, did not see any solutions reached. It is also an insult that while the MEC seeks intervention from the National Health Department for the deadlock he has created, his own Acting Health HOD claims that the province can in fact resolve its mortuary issues.

The MEC’s threats to have staff arrested if they do not go back to work is not a solution. Instead, he must address the workers’ pay grade translation that was agreed upon some 8 years ago and commit to improving their working conditions. Failure to do so will see ongoing protest action from this sector.

In the interim, the question Premier Mchunu must answer is this: why is he not holding his Health MEC to account for his ongoing severe lapses in leadership?

It is not forensic pathology workers who should be arrested, it is MEC Dhlomo. It is the MEC who must be dealt with. If the Premier will not fire him then the MEC must do the right thing and resign.

Issued by Imran Keeka, DA KZN Spokesperson on Health, 7 December 2018