An apparent failure to ensure military healthcare personnel are registered for COVID-19 vaccination has raised the ire of the SA National Defence Union (Sandu).
Pikkie Greeff, national secretary of South Africa’s largest military trade union, said its national office in Pretoria and provincial offices were and are still inundated by calls from SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) personnel wanting to know why they are excluded from the national Department of Health’s Sisonke vaccination programme.
“Like other South African healthcare workers, SAMHS personnel are exposed and deployed to COVID-19 hotspots on a daily basis. This is in direct contradiction of their right to access the vaccination programme.
“It appears SAMHS, under the command of the Surgeon General (Lieutenant General Zola Dabula) failed to register military healthcare personnel for the national vaccination programme.
“It is all told, grave, unnecessary and an irresponsible endangerment to the lives of SAMHS personnel,” he said, adding Sandu instructed the trade union’s attorney’s to demand “immediate rectification”.“If this is not done within three days, urgent legal action will be instituted against the Department of Defence (DoD) and specifically the Surgeon General to ensure all affected SA National Defence Force (SANDF) personnel, no matter from which service or division, who should be vaccinated as per the prescripts of the Sisonke programme.”
Greeff wants Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to “urgently engage with the SANDF command structure and, if necessary, take drastic action against those responsible”. This includes, if necessary, relieving the Surgeon General from duty, he said.
There was, at the time of publication, no word from either the DoD or the SANDF in response to the Sandu allegations.