The South African Federation is disgusted by the increasing number of armed attacks on emergency service workers. When criminals feel free to assault those whose job is to save lives, it is further proof of the degeneration of our social fabric and the lawlessness which is ruining the lives of South Africans.
- In Cape Town hijackers robbed and shot an animal inspector just down the road from her offices at the Animal Welfare Society in Philippi on 20 November 2017. Inspector Angelique Stanbridge and a secretary were heading to the bank with R48 000, the takings since last Friday, when they were attacked. “The inspector was driving and she was shot in her arm. Luckily the bullet went through. Police recovered the vehicle but the money was gone and the victim was left traumatized in hospital.
- SAFTU has already noted the gun attack on the the Manenberg Clinic, in September 2017, which left staff traumatised after the building was hit by stray bullets and a man died after he was caught in gang crossfire while on his way to the clinic.
- Paramedics were robbed on the N2 while transporting eight-year-old Faigon Wildschut to Red Cross Children’s Hospital 8 November 2017 when the emergency vehicle was forced off the road and robbed by armed assailants. The boy eventually reached the hospital, but he was later declared dead.
- The Western Cape Health Department confirmed armed men recently tried to hijack an ambulance crew at the Mfuleni day hospital in Cape Town on 17 November 2017, but fled empty handed after they were confronted by community members.
The City of Cape Town says that since 2012, more than 200 attacks on emergency service staff members have been reported.
This problem is not confined to the Western Cape however. A statement from the spokesperson of the City of Ekurhuleni emergency management services, William Ntladi, said that Ekurhuleni was experiencing an increase in attacks on staff, including damage to emergency vehicles and fire station centers. The same was true for Johannesburg.
He gave this shocking list of recent incidents of attacks and abuse of Ekurhuleni emergency personnel and resources, including:
- Personnel were robbed and assaulted in Somalia informal settlement, Vosloorus, on 29 October 2017;
- An ambulance was stoned at Greenfield in Palm Ridge on 30 October 2017;
- Personnel were assaulted and a fire engine shot at in Dukathole informal settlement in Germiston on 16 July 2017;
- Personnel from Leon Ferreira Fire Station had to dive for cover when shots were fired at them and the fire engine;
- A fire engine was stoned and the windscreen damaged during an attack at Angelo informal settlement on 17 December 2016;
- A fire engine from Zonkizizwe Fire Station was burnt at Moleleki Extention Two on 4 September 2016;
- Personnel from the Daveyton Fire Station were shot at by a random gunman while working in the station premises on 28 August 2016
- Personnel from Primrose Fire Station sustained injuries and a fire engine was damaged during an attack at the fire station on August 13, 2016; and
- Paramedics were assaulted on the N3 northbound while attending to an accident scene on 7 November 2016.
The spokesperson reported that “In one of the attacks, one member had to discontinue practicing as a firefighter because of the injuries she sustained. Other staff members are undergoing medical treatment and emotional counselling. Several vehicles had to be discontinued because of the damage that occurred during the attacks” .
These attacks are so despicable because they endanger not only the lives and safety of the emergency workers themselves but all those they are trying to rescue, save or rush to hospital.
They are attacks on every South African citizen and must be stopped. As the Ekurhuleni Spokesperson said, “The situation calls on all in the society to visit their moral compass and protect emergency personnel who are providing an essential service to the communities who needed their services”.
SAFTU demands that the police must drastically improve their efforts to arrest the offenders and the courts have to pass exemplary sentences to deter those committing these atrocities. The Police Minister must stop grandstanding about the fight against crime but allocate the resources for a blitz against these crimes against our life-savers.