Axe-wielding man hijacks ambulance

2020-04-21 13:53
A file picture of an ambulance.

A file picture of an ambulance. (crime)

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Two Emergency Medical Services (EMS) paramedics at Northdale Hospital were left shaken after narrowly escaping an axe-wielding man who hijacked their ambulance.

The dramatic scene played out on Saturday morning at Northdale Hospital’s ambulance parking area.

The Witness learned a mentally ill patient (38) had allegedly threatened paramedics, who had just offloaded another patient at the emergency unit.

The axe-wielding man got into the ambulance and drove over 30 kilometres to Wartburg, where he was later arrested.

KZN police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said the man was taken to hospital by an ambulance at about 10.30 am. “He allegedly threatened paramedics ... who had brought him to the hospital, with a sharp object,” Gwala said. The man then allegedly got into the ambulance and drove off.

“The ambulance was later recovered in Trustfeed in the Wartburg policing area after his mother contacted the police.”

The man was arrested, and a case of hijacking was opened at the Mountain Rise police station.

The Witness believes the man had been restrained in the ward.

It is not clear how he managed to smuggle the axe into the hospital.

A source at the hospital on Monday told The Witness the two paramedics were about to leave the hospital premises when they noticed the man being chased by security guards. “One of the paramedics was already inside the ambulance. The other, a female paramedic, had just gone to dispose of the gloves she was using,” said the source.

The man got into the passenger’s side of the ambulance with the axe. The driver immediately got out of the vehicle, trying to yank the keys out of the ignition, but the man attempted to hit him with the axe and he backed away.

“It was absolute chaos. The security guards at the gate tried to stop the ambulance but the patient crashed through the gate and drove off,” the source said.

National Education, Health Allied Workers’ Union regional secretary Mazwi Ngubane said the incident highlights concerns over safety and security of medical workers in hospitals.

“If there was someone in the passenger’s side, they would have been seriously injured.

“Safety and security of patients and staff should be a key focus area for the hospital. We have asked for an internal investigation into how the patient got hold of that weapon.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime

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