False hope of employment forms jobless queue at Khayelitsha Hospital

Unemployed youth queuing to submit their CVs at the Khayelitsha District Hospital. Photo by Lilita Gcwabe

Jobs at Khayelitsha District Hospital that were advertised via social media have been withdrawn.

While concerns about food security rise and the burden of not earning any income becomes heavier to carry, unemployed youth in Khayelitsha lined up to submit their applications for positions that were incorrectly circulated on a job advert from Khayelitsha District Hospital. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Elitsha witnessed long queues outside the hospital of mostly young people collecting Z83 government forms and filling them in before dropping their CVs into a box at the entrance of the hospital.

With the confirmed number of positive cases in Khayelitsha currently sitting at 232 and with an expected uncontrollable rise in those numbers, the need for the hospital to be more structurally prepared is clear. Hospital spokesperson, Sithembiso Magubane, says that 96% of the positions at the hospital are already filled as the increasing demand for medical care will inevitably result in the demand for more resources: “The hospital has de-escalated some of the services to make provision for the additional capacity for COVID-19.”

Magubane says that the advertisements for posts available have been removed and no legitimate posts have been advertised by the hospital. “An internal memo regarding the possibility of periodic posts for support staff becoming available in the coming months was incorrectly circulated and consequently withdrawn.”

However, according to Olwethu Sigogo, the branch chairperson of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU), the unions at the hospital had a meeting with the management, which presented their plan to increase human capacity at the hospital due to the coronavirus and it was agreed that the positions should be advertised.

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“Then the advert was sent from the hospital and the workers shared it on their Facebook accounts and we were then called to an urgent meeting and we were told that the facility management unit in Khayelitsha had not been consulted, but because they have no jurisdiction on appointments at the hospital we said the recruitment process should continue.” Recruitment continued, says Sigogo, until yesterday afternoon when the union representatives were called into an emergency meeting to be told that the CEO had received an instruction from the provincial office to cancel the advertisement ‘because it was causing so much anxiety in the community’.

Sigogo added that they are understaffed at the hospital due to some of the workers testing positive for the coronavirus.

A part-time engineering student at Northlink College, Asanda Njomba (24), stood in the line waiting to submit her application for any available position as she worries she will not be able to continue with this academic year if the college starts with online learning, “I’m scared to be left behind because I don’t have a laptop to do my assignments and even using my phone doesn’t help because I always run out of data.” Njomba has mostly received food support from her church and says that she received the advertisement from her pastor via Whatsapp: “The post was from Facebook but he shared it with me because he knows my situation and because I have two children and so I have to make sure that we have food on the table.”

Nwabisa Mpothulo (29) says that she initially saw the advertisement shared on a Facebook group that she is part of called “Imisebenzi eKapa” (job opportunities in Cape Town), and a friend of hers who works as a nurse at the hospital sent her the same post. “When we got here, we were told to collect the Z83 application forms and fill them out. They said that if we meet the requirements then we will receive correspondence in the next three months.” Having been unemployed since 2018, Mpotulo says that the lockdown put her search for a job on hold and that she doesn’t have any hope of receiving the R350 unemployment grant: “The problem is that there’s many of us; there’s also corruption and I read somewhere that if you are already receiving a child grant then you don’t qualify for the R350 even if you don’t have a job.”

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Anelisiwe Sigene (30) has been unemployed since last year and arrived at the hospital with the hope to get a position as a cleaner, “I also saw the post on the Facebook group and even if I get the position of a porter I’ll be happy.” Under the lockdown conditions, Sigene and her family have been solely reliant on a social grant and support from community members.

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