Hlathikhulu: Hospital staff at one of the major sickbays in the Eswatini, Hlatikhulu Government Hospital is at high risk following the downing of tools by the security personnel in February. Security ensures that no unauthorized people enter the hospital lest they interfered with the operations of the institution. Staff includes patients, doctors, nurses and support staff.
Independent News has been made to understand that the bone of contention is the guards’ unpaid salaries since last year. The contracted security company is Intelligence Security Services which was established in 2011.
One of the security personnel deployed at the hospital who elected to comment on condition of anonymity revealed that they were told that they would be paid on the February 15, 2020, but at the time of printing they had not been paid they did not receive anything. This led to a protest at the end of the month on February 27, where the guards resolved to abandon their duties.
The guard explained to this publication that their supervisor informed them that they would be contacted once the issue was resolved so that they could report back to work. Consequently, the hospital’s staff safety especially the patients’ who are the most vulnerable has been at stake.
Independent News sources close to the matter further disclosed that it seems like it is only those deployed at Hlathikhulu who are facing the challenge because their fellow colleagues in other stations are working well and they are said to be receiving their salaries on time every month.
Bongwa Simelane*, a nurse at the hospital indicated that this has been going on for some time, where security personnel would leave the hospital unsafe due to unpaid salaries, something she said was compromising their safety as well as the safety of the patients. Simelane went on to say that they fear the worse for their personal properties, especially cars which are left unguarded.
He also pointed to the fact that newborn babies are at risk of being stolen by cunning strangers or being smuggled out of the country, citing the recent incident that was reported at Mankayane Government Hospital where a newborn baby was stolen by a women who disguised herself as a nurse.
Simelane said such incidents are inevitable even in their workplace if the issue of the security is not sorted out soon. He further expressed their concern about the chop and changing of security staff by the same company, and attributed such occurrence to the delay in the payment of salaries.
One of the directors of Intelligence Security Services who asked to comment on condition of anonymity said she cannot comment much on the matter in hand. She told Independent News that as a company they only sell their service to government, so if there were problems of this nature, its only government officials who can be held responsible for such predicament, suggesting that it was government’s fault for that has resulted in the delayed payment of salaries. When pressed further, she then advised this publication to consult the senior health officials for further clarifications on the matter.
Administrator of Hlatikhulu Government Hospital Fortunate Sibandze was reluctant to comment on the matter, saying she is not in a position to address the media. She then referred all questions on the subject matter to the Director of Health Dr. Vusi Magagula. When Magagula was contacted, his phone rang unanswered neither did he reply to WhatsApp messages sent to him.
Hlatikulu is one of the oldest towns of the Kingdom of Eswatini, located in the south of the country. It has an area of 3,786.71 km² and a population of 204,111 (2017), and is divided into 14 Tinkhundla. Its administrative center is Nhlangano, a town within close proximity. It borders Lubombo in the northeast and Manzini Region in the northwest.