Firefighter hurt after picketing workers stone fire engine

2010-04-15 00:00

AN Msunduzi Municipality firefighter was sent to hospital after sustaining injuries to her eyes when a fire engine was stoned by picketing employees yesterday.

Firefighters were responding to a fire in Havelock Road at about 10 am when the incident happened.

According to a firefighter who wished not to be named, they were warned not to disembark from the fire engine as the picketing employees would prevent them from execu­ting their duties.

The employees were picketing outside the waste management section in support of the nationwide strike by the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) that started on Monday.

“As we were driving off, the employees started throwing bricks at our fire engine, damaging the vehicle. A thrown brick hit the windscreen and the glass temporarily blinded the driver … she had to be taken to hospital for a check up,” said the firefighter.

Fortunately, the driver did not sustain serious injuries, said the firefighter, adding that the driver was sent to Medi-Clinic and discharged a few hours later.

Fire chief Billy Paton condemned the action by the picketing employees, saying the fire department’s services are an essential service and that, as wor­kers of the council, the strikers should know better.

He said the damage to the fire engine is estimated to run into thousands of rands, especially since the fire engine is imported and parts to repair it have to be imported as well.

Paton told The Witness that arrangements have been made for firefighters to be escorted by security when going out to execute their duties.

Deputy chairman of Pietermaritzburg Samwu, Sakhile Ngcobo, said they heard about the incident, but did not see any of the picketers participating in it.

“We do not know who did it, but we condemn the incident and we will investigate …” he said.

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