Hospital rape accused due in Eastern Cape court

Workers, unions happy after health department takes steps to address safety issues at facility

The alleged rape outraged workers and the communities the hospital serves.
The alleged rape outraged workers and the communities the hospital serves.
Image: 123RF/ canjoena

A security guard accused of raping a male Mjanyana Hospital employee is to appear in the Ngcobo magistrate’s court on Friday.

The alleged rape outraged workers and the communities the hospital serves, on the outskirts of Ngcobo

In solidarity with the alleged victim, hospital core and support staff downed tools on Monday and Tuesday in an effort to force management to support the alleged victim and address other outstanding safety issues at the hospital.

Organised labour under the banner of Denosa, Nehawu and Hospersa said the department was not treating the case with the seriousness it deserved.

They have asked for security upgrades at the hospital for many years.

The incident happened on September 19, and the alleged victim opened a case on September 21.

He is a non-nursing staffer.

The suspect, who is one of the security officials hired to guard the hospital, had been at large since the attack.

Police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu said on Thursday the suspect had been arrested this week.

“The family violence child protection and sexual offence unit in Mthatha arrested a 49-year-old suspect today [Wednesday] in Willowvale. The suspect was arrested at his home at about 2pm,” Naidu said

The alleged victim and the union leadership were happy about the arrest, and called for the alleged perpetrator to be denied bail, saying the fact that he had escaped and evaded arrest after the alleged offence, showed that he would not attend trial.

On Thursday, Vusumzi Mbindini, Denosa regional shop-steward, and health department acting spokesperson Yonela Dekeda, said in response to the incident and the workers’ protest action, Chris Hani district manager Sindiswa Tywabi had dispatched a high-powered delegation to meet staff at Mjanyana on Tuesday.

Dekeda said: “The delegation met the facility management and the unions.

“Our employee is on special leave, given the terrible ordeal he has [allegedly] experienced, and is being provided psychosocial support.”

She said Tywabi was scheduled to meet the hospital management and organised labour leaders on Friday, “to maintain line of sight on this concerning matter and also attend to other administrative issues”.

Mbindini said the department took action to support the alleged victim only after workers took to the streets calling for justice for him.

“If we had folded our arms, nothing would have been done to support the alleged victim. The department has failed him.

“The incident happened on September 19, but the department took action only this week, on October 5, after workers protested.

“The alleged victim has since Tuesday been placed on special leave and we welcome that. 

“We feel he was exposed to secondary victimisation by being forced to come to work despite the ordeal and in the very same environment where the incident [allegedly] happened.

“That was wrong of the department. But now we are happy that the district has resolved to place him on special leave.”

Mbindini and other union leaders also raised issues about the hospital CEO, Nomalizo Ngxata, saying the incident had worsened relations between her and the workers.

“This hospital is in a forest, away from the village, in the middle of nowhere.

“We should have strong security support for staff and the facility. We need to beef up security,” Mbindini said

Workers have been back at work since Tuesday afternoon, and hope that the Friday meeting will iron out differences between management and the workers.

Ngxata could not be reached.

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