Western Cape Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo has warned that if attacks on paramedics continue, they will not send emergency workers into “danger zones” anymore.
The Minister was speaking at the Philippi Stadium yesterday during a protest attended by more than a thousand emergency services workers who fear for their safety while on the job.
Paramedics from both the provincial and private sectors marched through the streets of Browns Farm, identified as one of the hotspots for attacks on emergency workers responding to callouts.
“In the month of August, two roads from where we are in Giyo Giyo Street, there were two separate incidents in the same road,” says march organiser, Bongani Mini.
Officials say from January this year, 42 incidents have been recorded, which include assault, robbery, theft, vandalism and hijacking.
Nyanga, Hanover Park, Crossroads, Manenberg, Bonteheuwel, Delft and Elsies River have also been identified as danger zones.
The attacks have led to some medics buying bulletproof vests for their protection.
The People against Gangsterism and Drugs’ breakaway movement, the Pagad G-Force, has even offered to escort medics into volatile areas.
Paramedic Ntuthuzelo Jucwa, 35, says: “We are unable to properly do our jobs because we are always looking over our shoulders, I know so many of my colleagues who have left because they are simply too afraid to continue working.”
Dometrian Beukes, 35, says he was attacked two weeks ago while responding to a patient.
“Most of the guys here have PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder] from the constant attacks.
“Whenever one leaves for work, we don’t know if this will be the time we are attacked or held at gunpoint before our personal belongings are taken.
“And that’s what happened to me and my partner, we were robbed while responding to a call and our vehicle damaged.”
MEC Mbombo says government “has done all they could” to deal with the issues but the attacks still happen, which is why they decided to come to the communities.
“Community of Browns Farm, we are angry, that is why we brought ourselves here,” she said.
“There will be at time when we say we are gatvol, we will not send an ambulance to a crime scene. We are all humans, why would we put people’s lives in danger?
“There will be a time where, even if there are people’s lives in danger, they won’t go in.
“We have put all the resources in place, safety of the staff is not only my business, it is everyone’s business.”