No medics for Slangspruit

2017-02-14 10:56
An EMS ambulance was damaged on Saturday when paramedics were attacked in Slangspruit at night. The attackers smashed the windscreen and bashed doors of the ambualance.

An EMS ambulance was damaged on Saturday when paramedics were attacked in Slangspruit at night. The attackers smashed the windscreen and bashed doors of the ambualance. (Supplied)

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Paramedics from KwaZulu-Natal’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) yesterday described their fear when they were attacked in the Slangspruit area in Pietermaritzburg at the weekend.

Nobody knows what became of the pregnant woman who had called them for help because the paramedics were too afraid to go back there. She had called again after the attack on the ambulance, to say she was still at the scene and needed assistance.

The paramedics, who asked not to be named, said they could not continue working after they were attacked while responding to a maternity call in Slangspruit on Saturday night at around 11 pm.

The two said they are not sure how they will cope when they have to report for duty again after Saturday’s ordeal.

Speaking to The Witness, the female paramedic said when they arrived at the scene to which they had been summoned, they found no one there.

“We phoned the control centre to tell them we could not find the patient. While we were still waiting, four men and a woman approached us.

“One of them banged on the window and told us to open the ambulance. He said he was sick,” she said.

She said while the five were still surrounding the ambulance, a man and woman also approached the ambulance.

“The man looked unstable; it looked like he had been drinking. The area is also busy, and it looks like there is a shebeen around.

“The other man also started banging the window but the woman told him to stop and he eventually did. They went across the road.”

The paramedic said at that time, the four men who had first approached the ambulance were getting violent and started hurling insults at the paramedics.

“All of them had dreadlocks. They told us that we are government employees and said we must open the door. They asked us if we are not wary of the fact that we were in ‘Slang’.

“The one who had gone across the road eventually came back when things started heating up. One of them climbed onto the roof of the ambulance and hit the windscreen with his fist.

“I then started revving the ambulance. The others got out of the way, but the one on the roof of the ambulance stayed there.”

She said she eventually managed to drive away with one man hanging onto the windscreen wipers.

“He started trying to block my view and I could not see properly. At the robot, the cars started hooting at me and I stopped in the middle of the road.

“Other motorists asked me what was wrong and I told them the story. When he tried to escape, the other motorists ran after him and they beat him up,” she said. They then put him into the ambulance and the paramedics drove to Alexandra Road police station.

She said it was the first time she had come under threat since she had become a paramedic. “Usually we do get insults when we go out, but not violence. I am now scared, especially to respond to night operations,” she said.

While they were back at the base, she said the patient who had earlier called for assistance called back to say she was still at the scene waiting for the ambulance, but all the paramedics were too scared to go to the area.

“The attackers were still out there,” the female paramedic said.

She said after trying to open a case at the police station, they were told that there was no evidence showing that the man was trying to hijack them.

“They told us to drive back to Edendale Hospital with the man, but we were scared and left him at the police station.”

The male paramedic who was with her on Saturday said responding to operations in Slangspruit in the future would not be easy.

“The problem is that it is not the whole community that is doing this. Punishing the whole community for this would be wrong.

“They need the ambulance. I think there should be an arrangement with the community because we cannot compromise our safety,” he said.


NEHAWU provincial organiser Mazwi Ngubane said they will continue not responding to operations in Slangspruit.

“We want a community meeting where the community members are going to commit themselves to stop attacking paramedics.”

Ngubane said some community members had also gone to the Edendale base and threatened the paramedics after the incident.

Ward councillor Gladness Mncwango said she had asked the safety and security ward committee about the incident but they had said they were not aware of it.

She said she would investigate the matter.

Police spokesperson Mthokozisi Ngobese said there was no case opened at the Alexandra Road police station.

Department of Health spokesperson Sam Mkhwanazi declined to comment on the matter.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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