Medics robbed in hoax

2015-12-23 10:21
(Nielen de Klerk, News24)

(Nielen de Klerk, News24)

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Pietermaritzburg - The KwaZulu-Natal Health Department is reeling with shock after a hoax call for an ambulance resulted in the crew being robbed at gunpoint and the vehicle set alight and burned to a crisp on Monday night.

KZN Health spokesperson Desmond Motha said the ambulance had been fitted with emergency medical equipment worth over R1 million.

Apart from the financial loss to the department the local community will also suffer as there is one emergency vehicle fewer available to respond to their needs.

KZN Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo issued a statement strongly condemning the hijacking and burning of the ambulance.

“This is a very crucial time for our medical emergency vehicles and staff,” said Dhlomo.

He said since staff are working through the holidays to serve the needs of people in distress they deserve protection.

The incident took place at about 10 pm after the uMgungundlovu communication room received a call for an ambulance to be sent to Empolweni (near Cramond) for a maternity case.

An ambulance was despatched three minutes later.

But on arrival at its destination the two-member crew was held up at gunpoint by two men. The robbers took two cellphones from them and told them to run away. They then set fire to the ambulance, destroying the vehicle and all its rescue and resuscitation equipment.

“While we are relieved our crew members are safe and have been referred to the employee assistance programme for counselling, we nonetheless decry the destruction of this valuable and much needed medical emergency vehicle,” said Dhlomo.

Asked whether the incident might be linked to recent grievances raised by paramedics who are poised for further possible strike action, Motha said this was not something the department could speculate about.

“We don’t know who the attackers were and we don’t know why they set fire to the ambulance.

“That is for the police to investigate. This is just very sad because this vehicle is needed by the public,” he said.

He said the call centre could never ignore an emergency call.

The case has been referred to police at Cramond.

Any member of the public who needs an ambulance urgently can contact the uMgungundlovu communication room by calling 0800 0051 33.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  robbery

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