With no money for petrol, many doctors have applied for authorised special leave. But some hospitals have warned there will be consequences.
The health minister warns finding the money for junior doctor placements is not voluntary, it's what the law prescribes.
The future of South Africa's doctors rests on provincial purses.
The Eastern Cape has ordered its debt-hobbled health department to stop hiring new doctors, in a move that may affect as many as 400 junior doctors.