Officers’ suspension ‘a blow’

2013-07-09 00:00

THE only three officers of Ladysmith’s accident response team have been ­suspended, leaving paramedics in a vulnerable position while performing their duties at accident scenes.

Their suspension was confirmed by a senior officer at the Ladysmith police station, who then referred The Witness to the provincial police media centre for further detail.

Sources with intimate knowledge of the matter said the officers’ suspension follows the disappearance of counterfeit cigarettes that were confiscated and supposed to have been kept in the evidence room. A source said the consignment was confiscated in January.

It is not clear where the cigarettes were confiscated, and what the consignment’s value was.

Replying to a set of questions sent to the media centre yesterday, police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said: “This office confirms the suspension of three members from the Ladysmith Response Team. The suspension comes as a result of internal investigations. The issue of discipline is an internal matter between the employer and employee. Duties that were performed by the members will receive the necessary attention by trained personnel.”

A paramedic said his job at accident scenes was made difficult without the three officers.

Rajesh Mahabeer, of Sharaj Ambulances in Ladysmith, said the absence of the officers was a major blow to the community. He said when an accident happens, the three were quick to get to the scene and ensure that all aspects were recorded for court purposes.

“In their absence, what do we do because we can’t remove trapped people from a wreckage if no report has been drafted by these guys. If there’s an accident now, we have to wait for the SAPS to get to the scene and that hampers our work because we wait for a long time.

“If we were to extricate a patient from a wreckage, how do we explain in court and give a clear description of the accident in detail? In court you have to give a detailed and clear picture of how things were — from what position the deceased were lying in or seated; angles in which they were lying or trapped etc. This is a major blow for the community,” said Mahabeer.

The three officers, whose names are known to The Witness, have been covering a vast area in the small Northern KZN town and the outlying areas.

They covered Ezakheni, Steadville, Mbulwana, Colenso, Tsakane, Roosboom, Driefontein, Peacetown and the N3 to Van Reenen, among other areas.

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