A protest against foreign patients by Operation Dudula Movement outside the Kalafong hospital in Tshwane turned into a slap fest when the EFF stepped in.
The Fighters, as EFF members are known, arrived at the hospital around 11am and wasted no time showing irritation against Dudula members who had arrived three hours earlier to continue their campaign against foreign patients at the hospital .
Operation Dudula, who started picketing at the hospital for some weeks now, stood their ground as the Red Berets started singing protest songs.
Tension was thick in the air as the two groups competed for the spotlight near the facility’s gates.
A clash was finally in the making when the EFF members started singing and dancing closer to where Dudula members had camped. Within a few seconds slaps and fists started flying and members of Dudula had to take cover at a nearby tuckshop across the hospital.
One person from Dudula suffered injuries to the face after taking a jab from a Fighter.
Less than 50 metres away, police stood and watched as the two sides battled it out with no intervention. Lack of police intervention has been the order of the proceedings at the Kalafong Hospital entrance, even after the court interdict ordering the Dudula members to end their protest was issued.
Addressing a crowd after the confrontation, EFF’s provincial spokesperson Phillip Makwala said the party would not sit back and allow human rights to be violated.
“The EFF does not meet guns with flowers. Police are clearly afraid. There is a court order here that says these people must be dispersed, but police are watching and not doing anything. They (Dudula) think they are bigger than the police, they are bigger than everyone. They are untouchable, so the EFF must match them toe-to-toe,” he said.
“Operation Dudula are not immigration officials, they are not law enforcement; why are they asking our people questions about where they come from? It is none of their business. We will be here to make sure that our people get the services they need.”
Singing “voetsek Dudula”, EFF members insisted that was the only way to protect people from what they said was intimidation by Dudula.
Operation Dudula greater Tshwane regional coordinator Elias Makgwadi said they would continue with their protest and that the court order made no mention of them dispersing.
“According to section 17 we are allowed to picket; it is a peaceful protest. Our agreement with the police captain leading this operation is that they are not going to force us to disperse because that’s not what our interdict states.
“We will not prevent anyone from going inside, but we will continue to picket every day until we go to court on October 10,” Makgwadi said.
He said since the operation began they have had feedback from staff members who told them that the work pressure had reduced.
One staff member working for the hospital pharmacy appeared to be in agreement, saying Dudula has helped them.
“You are doing well. People do not know what we are going through,” she said.
“Since you guys started I no longer knock off at 7pm, I am able to leave at 4pm and be with my family because the queue is not as long as it was [before].”