Health services at clinics in the Ndlambe Municipality in Makhanda and also parts of the Buffalo City Metro, in the Eastern Cape, have come to a standstill.

Community health workers have closed 19 clinics. They are demanding that the Health Department should permanently appoint them.

The workers say they earn a meagre stipend for tracing contacts during the COVID-19 pandemic and doing home visits.

Protesting worker, Nokuphiwe Solani, says the department prefers outsiders when permanent positions are on offer.

“We have families, we have children. So we don’t do anything about the money they are giving us. They are giving us peanuts. So R3 500 is not enough and we are doing a lot of work at the clinics even during this coronavirus thing all the workers are depending on us. We are frontline workers,” Solani says.

In late November last year, hundreds of health workers’ union, Nehawu, members in various parts of the province joined the national day of action to picket, demanding the absorption of close to 6 000 community healthcare workers.

Some had been on one-year contracts for 10 years.

The union in the Eastern Cape accused the health department of exploiting and mistreating community health care workers for over a decade: