CT clinic under police protection

2010-10-28 18:41

Cape Town - Cape Town police have confirmed that they will provide 24-hour protection at the Hanover Park Community Health Centre after gang violence in the area prompted the Western Cape health department to close down the facility on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for Phillipi police station, which services the area, said on Thursday that police presence had been beefed up, with officers on site and police patrols in the immediate and surrounding areas.

"It is well-guarded," Warrant Officer Etienne Conradie told News24.

Asked how long the officers - who will also escort staff from the police station in Phillipi to the entrance of the facility - will guard the clinic, Conradie said it would depend on how long the gang violence lasted.

Sithembiso Magubane, a spokesperson for the health department, told News24 the facility had been closed down for the safety of staff and patients.

The community health centre is expected to re-open its doors to the public on Friday morning.

Staff under threat

According to the department, on October 16 a pregnant junior doctor was threatened by people escorting a patient, and on Wednesday a stray bullet that came from a gun battle at a taxi rank nearby narrowly missed a staff member after going through a wall in the centre's pharmacy.

While the clinic was closed, emergency cases were diverted to surrounding health facilities, including GF Jooste Hospital, the department said.

Conradie said the police were conducting stop and search patrols and putting up vehicle check points in the area to try and bring down the levels of gang violence which he said flared up about three weeks ago.

About 800 patients visit the community health centre per day, 3 500 per week and 15 000 per month. The facility has 123 staff members.

Earlier this month the office of Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz said decreasing gang violence was a priority in the department and they would look at what the causes of the problem are and analyse the choices available to young people on the Cape Flats.