Man found guilty of robbing paramedic gets 12-year prison term

2017-10-04 21:16
Paramedics protest over attacks against their colleagues. (File photo: Jenni Evans, News24)

Paramedics protest over attacks against their colleagues. (File photo: Jenni Evans, News24)

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Cape Town – A Khayelitsha Magistrate's Court ruling on Wednesday sentencing a man to 12 years in prison for robbing a paramedic proves that emergency medical services (EMS) personnel aren't "soft targets" anymore, Western Cape community safety MEC Dan Plato said. 

The provincial department of community safety said Siphelo Manunga was found guilty of robbery. He robbed a Western Cape EMS paramedic in Khayelitsha in December. 

Plato said the ruling confirms that the courts will deal harshly with perpetrators of crimes against EMS staff.

"Key to this sentence is the fact that the court recognised the impact such attacks have on the ability of the Western Cape government to provide critical services, especially to poor communities," he said. 

Western Cape National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila could not be reached for comment. 

Over the past year there have been numerous reports of attacks by robbers on paramedics. In several cases, the emergency calls would turn out to be bogus. 

Extra training for paramedics

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

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

In August, a suspected criminal was killed and a police officer critically injured when an ambulance was ambushed in Gugulethu. 

An ambulance was stoned in Strand when it responded to an emergency call in September. 

Western Cape health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo previously barred paramedics from entering "red zones", which are suburbs where paramedics have been attacked more than once, without police escort.

Mbombo said the department had introduced situational awareness training, which includes anti-hijacking training, for paramedics.

Ambulance windows have also been fitted with tinted smash-and-grab safety film.

"Despite our best efforts to protect our staff members, little can be done without the cooperation of the communities that we serve," Mbombo said.  

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