Lay counsellor Calls Out mistreatment of CHWs

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On Friday, 30 October 2020, community healthcare worker (CHW), Paulina Sibanda, who works at the Bronkhorstspruit Hospital wrote a grievance letter to the CHWs’ Quality Manager, E. Lepota. Sibanda, works as a lay counsellor at the hospital’s maternity ward and wrote the letter following an incident she perceives as bullying at the hands of member of the nursing staff. This specific incident took place on the same day as the letter was written.

In the letter, which a copy of, Karibu! has in its possession. Sibanda complains about the misconduct of a nurse identified only as ‘Sister Phahla’. According to the letter, Sibanda writes that this is a ‘repeated offence’ by ‘Sister Phahla’ allegedly using vulgar language towards the CHWs even in front of patients.

The recent incident which triggered Sibanda to formally lodge a complaint against the sister took place in the morning inside the maternity ward. The letter describes the incident as “the floor was still too wet,” and Sister Phahla in front of a patient started using vulgar language towards the lay counsellor.

“She is [a] bully and abuses the people that work under her without ever getting physical”, wrote Sibanda.

She adds that Sister Phahla puts her down in front of other staff members by belittling and making accusations against Sibanda without reason. The letter goes on to add that Sister Phahla allegedly blames employees that work under. But the nature of these threats was not disclosed.

Sibanda goes on to say that, “Bullying is a bad image for the hospital: it depresses morale, and lowers productivity.”

The workplace has no tolerance for CHWs. This is one of the reasons that led to Sibanda making a formal complaint to the Quality Manager at the Department of Health.

The Forum has been battling for the recognition of the rights and dignity of CHWs, as well as to end their exploitation. In the process, CHWs have won some landmark legal battles that benefited CHWs in Gauteng. But there is still more work to do internally.

This article was submitted on 31 October You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (, and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.

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