Over 1000 delegates at SA AIDS Sign Petition to Drop Charges Against Free State CHWs
1120 delegates attending last week’s 7th South African AIDS conference in Durban signed a petition to drop trumped up charges against 117 community healthcare workers in the Free State. They called on Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to take a public position that the charges should be dropped.
The 117 community healthcare workers were arrested outside Bophelo House, the headquarters of the Free State Department of Health, in July 2014 for peacefully protesting against the unfair termination of their employment and the state of the healthcare system in the province.
“We are heartened by the overwhelmingly positive response the petition received from conference delegates,” says Anele Yawa, General Secretary of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC). “It is clear to everyone that the arrests are an attempt to intimidate and punish community healthcare workers for exercising their democratic right to peaceful protest. We will not stand for a culture of fear and intimidation in our healthcare system. We need to face the issues raised by whistle-blowers and conscientious healthcare workers, not suppress it.”
The 117 community healthcare workers will be standing trial from July 6 to 9 in the Bloemfontein Magistrates Court. Many of them will be travelling from far to attend the trial. TAC is raising money for their transport and accommodation during the trial – which they are legally obliged to attend.
We are confident that the state has no case and that the 117 will be acquitted. We repeat our call for the National Prosecuting Authority to drop what we consider to be politically motivated charges.
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