'My babies, my babies' screamed terrified paramedic during attempted robbery

2017-08-25 20:50
Ambulance. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Ambulance. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town – A Gugulethu woman had just entered her house to convince her cousin to get into the ambulance she called for him, when the shooting started.

“On my first step back into the house, I heard the gunshots,” Nandipha* recalled on Friday morning.

The ambulance driver jumped out and ran through their front yard to the back of the house, and hid in the outside bathroom.

She said he took his paramedic jacket off and stuffed it into the backyard toilet in case they were targeting them specifically. He jumped over the neighbour's wall and hid there.

ALSO READ: Cape Town ambulance ambush leaves 1 dead, 1 cop critically injured

His female colleague jumped out of the back of the ambulance and ran into the house screaming.

“She fell to her knees outside my uncle's room and was praying, screaming: 'my babies, my babies, my babies'.”

People in the house hid and those living in the shacks in the yard locked themselves in.

“From that moment, we heard silence, and then sirens. Then we heard a big bang.”

She was recounting how, around 22:00 on Wednesday night, five men tried to steal the firearms of the police officers who had escorted the ambulance to her home. Moments earlier, Nandipha had asked one of the officers if he could try and convince her reluctant, and very ill, cousin to get into the ambulance.

“The policeman I had spoken to was shot,” said Nandipha, with tears falling down her cheeks.

Western Cape police spokesperson, Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said the 34-year-old officer was recovering in hospital. One of the would-be thieves, in his 30s, was shot dead. His alleged accomplice, 38, was wounded. He is under police guard and will face charges of attempted murder and illegal possession of a firearm.

Police watchdog Ipid would investigate the shooting.

'It was like a movie'

In February, Western Cape Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo banned paramedics from entering certain crime “red zones” without a police escort, because of previous attacks on paramedics.

Nandipha seemed almost apologetic for having called the ambulance.

Sitting in her lounge and coughing into a scarf as the whole house struggles with flu, she said her cousin had been desperately ill for a while with a fever, a cough, and was constantly vomiting. He was not getting any better.

“He could not keep anything down,” she said.

The family had been concerned about him, but could not get him to go to a clinic because he was feeling so sick. Eventually, after a family meeting, they decided to call an ambulance to take him, as he was so weak, and even though he did not want to go.

“I phoned because I was the only one with airtime,” she explained.

The operator took her name and address and told her there would be a wait because they had to find an available police officer to accompany them. When the ambulance eventually came, she saw its doors and windows were firmly shut. The police escort was parked a short distance away.

Nandipha went outside to greet the paramedics and to explain that her cousin was reluctant to go to hospital. He was also a little annoyed that they had called an ambulance for him.

The paramedics suggested she ask one of the police officers to try and convince him to get in.

The police officers told her they could not do that, as it might frighten him and they had to guard the ambulance. She returned to the house to convince her cousin to accept help. That was when the shooting started.

When calm had returned, one “tsotsi” was lying dead next to the police van. Another was injured outside one of the houses.

Within minutes, police vans and other ambulances filled the street, and officers emerged with rifles and other weapons.

Somebody put the injured policeman in the ambulance that had been summoned for her cousin, and started helping him.

“I didn't cry. I was so shocked. I didn't know what was happening. It was like a movie. We don't know where the hell the guys came from.”

A paramedic from one of the other ambulances asked if he could help her cousin. Her cousin promised to get himself to the clinic the next day, which he did.

*Name changed to protect her identity

Read more on:    cape town  |  crime

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