Mahikeng residents took to the streets demanding improved service delivery and the removal of North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo. Picture: SIMPHIWE NKWALI
Mahikeng residents took to the streets demanding improved service delivery and the removal of North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo. Picture: SIMPHIWE NKWALI

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) said on Friday that it had brought the health system in the North West to a level of normality.

This is after it deployed the South African Military Health Service (SAMHS) to the province. The service took over the provision of healthcare services at Mahikeng Provincial Hospital on April 21 amid widespread protests.

The defence force said it had stabilised security within the hospital‚ ensured successful distribution of medical products by the depot to healthcare facilities and secured access to the hospital by patients.

"The SANDF has stepped up to intervene in the situation in the province to help preserve lives of the most vulnerable‚ who rely heavily on government healthcare services. This is an endeavour to ensure that South Africans’ constitutional right to life-saving healthcare is protected‚" the SANDF said in a statement.

SANDF chief Gen Solly Shoke commended the "sterling" work done by healthcare practitioners of the military and encouraged them to continue providing the vital healthcare services to the people affected.

Protests in the North West reached boiling point towards the end of April. Residents‚ among other things‚ called for premier Supra Mahumapelo to step down‚ and wanted drastic improvements in the state of healthcare. They also demanded that corruption and labour grievances were dealt with.

The protests turned violent and held healthcare provision in the province hostage.