Paramedics fear for their lives as attacks on Western Cape EMS crews continue
Attacks on emergency medical services staff in the Western Cape continue with two teams of paramedics targetted attacked in separate incidents in the space of a week. On Wednesday, 20 March 2019, a team of paramedics was held at gunpoint while responding to an emergency in Khayelitsha and on Saturday, 23 March 2019, another group was attacked, also at gunpoint, robbed of their belongings and physically assaulted.
Head of EMS at Western Cape Health Department, Dr Shaheem De Vries spoke to Kieno Kammies on Cape Talk on Monday morning. “The attack was quite brutal. They assaulted him physically, held a gun in his mouth and robbed him of his cellphone and wallet as well as all the equipment in the vehicle,” said Dr Shaheem De Vries, Head of EMS at Western Cape Health Department. De Vries says the situation has created tensions within the department where the emergency response team are starting to fear for their lives and management teams are attempting to contain the situation. “Emotions are high and when emotions are high talks gear toward ultimatums and binary choices,” he said.
Provincial spokesperson for Emergency Medical Services and Forensic Pathology Services, Robert Daniels, said a Western Cape government emergency medical services (EMS) ambulance crew were robbed at gunpoint on Saturday. Daniels said the robbery took place near the Saint John’s Church in Section 35. “Two male EMS practitioners were robbed of their personal belongings and left severely traumatised,” Daniels said. He said a criminal case was opened and the victims of the attack were receiving trauma counselling.
Police spokesperson Noloyiso Rwexana said they were investigating a case of armed robbery. She said according to information they received on Sunday, the EMS practitioners were robbed by four unknown suspects who then fled the scene. “Two of them were armed.” Rwexana said no one was arrested; shots were fired.
Traffic chief Kenny Africa said the personal belongings taken included cellphones, wallets, wedding bands, a radio and money. “We need these services and this is not right,” he said.
Four months ago, an ambulance driver and a passenger were robbed at gunpoint in Mitchells Plain while driving on AZ Berman Drive in Lentegeur. They were stopped by two men.
Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo has condemned the spate of ambulance attacks in the province. “The attack on two male EMS practitioners on Saturday night is unacceptable - that when emergency medical service personnel respond to life-threatening emergencies, their lives are threatened,” Mbombo said.
A resident from Khayelitsha, Nandi Ngwenya, said she could not believe that anyone could be so cruel as to rob the ambulance crew, who were on a rescue mission. Ngwenya said these acts clearly showed that “criminals are stupid”. “Who in their right mind can rob an ambulance that is there to save lives? Now the ambulances and the practitioners will take longer to respond to emergencies because of crime.”
Source: Cape Talk and IOL