Hundreds of Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) members and community healthcare workers held a march in Bloemfontein yesterday. The workers marched from Batho Hall in the morning through Bophelo House, to the Provincial Council on AIDS (PCA) to hand over a memorandum stating their grievances. They were also demanding that the PCA support the aims of the TAC in improving the Free State health system.
“The march went very well. We got a positive response from the PCA management and arranged a meeting with the Free State Head of secretariat of the PCA, Tefo Tabi. This is so that we can work together to come up with possible solutions to these issues,” said TAC general secretary, Anele Yawa.
The group also stated that they will hold peaceful overnight vigils for the next six weeks outside the headquarters of the Free State Department of Health on every Wednesday night. The peaceful vigils will continue until September 1st, when the 127 activists and community healthcare workers who were arrested and held in custody for 36 hours last week will appear in court.
“The peaceful night vigils are being held to place the spotlight on the collapse of the Free State healthcare system and the inability of the current provincial leadership to deal with the problem. In recent months we have observed hospitals running out of basic supplies such as surgical gloves, hospitals operating without any heating, and stock-outs of a variety of essential medicines,” they said in a statement.
More than a hundred TAC members and community healthcare workers were arrested on July 10, for picketing outside Bophelo House and holding an unpermitted night vigil. They were released on free bail and a warning not to engage in any illegal gatherings until their next court appearance on September 1.