Concern as another ambulance is attacked in Cape Town

Cape Town – An ambulance was attacked in an informal settlement in Cape Town at the weekend amid increased concern by emergency workers for their safety.

The ambulance had picked up a patient and was driving in Asanda Village, Strand, around 02:00 on Sunday, Western Cape police spokesperson FC van Wyk said on Monday.

According to the driver a group of people were standing in Magatya Street when someone walked in front of the ambulance.

"The driver stopped and reversed and the pedestrian fell down. The group then started throwing stones at the ambulance."

It was understood that the group broke the side-view mirrors and stripped off the vehicle's badge at the back.

The provincial health department confirmed the incident involving two of its crew members.

No arrests

Spokesperson Robert Daniels said there was no confirmed reason for the attack and it was not the first of its kind in the Helderberg.

"They were not physically injured in this attack and both have refused counselling at this stage. However, they may need in the future and we are always able to accommodate later requests for counselling."

No one had yet been arrested for malicious damage to property.

The attack comes less than a month after the department launched Operation Khuseleka, an initiative aimed at encouraging society to help keep its staff safe.

"We urge people to remember that we are there to help. It could be your mother, sister, son or brother in the ambulance," said emergency medical services (EMS) manager Phumzile Papu at the launch.

"Let us do our work safely. Please don't let thugs rob communities of an essential service."

March planned

Attacks in the past were more likely to be linked to gang activity, whereas current statistics showed an increase in the number of robberies and assaults with a weapon on paramedics.

Five men armed with knives attacked and robbed a team of paramedics in Happy Valley informal settlement in Blackheath in July, News24 reported.

A female paramedic was stabbed with a broken bottle.

In May four men robbed two paramedics of their medical supplies after they had responded to a call in Nyanga, News24 reported.

The Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa) expressed alarm over the safety of its EMS members.

It said some members had even suggested downing tools until the employer had devised a plan to protect them.

EMS members were expected to march in Cape Town later this week over the attacks.

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