The City of Cape Town has noted with concern the increase in vandalism and theft at health facilities, with healthcare workers also regularly coming under attack.
This includes an incident at the Lentegeur Clinic in January where the Covid-19 testing booth and Jojo tank were vandalised.
Mayco member for community services and health Dr Zahid Badroodien says the booth was vandalised on Monday 18 January, with the tank being vandalised on Monday 11 January.
The tank pipes were stolen and the Covid-19 testing booth was vandalised and stripped of aluminium trimmings.
“The Jojo tanks are essential to the daily operations of the facility because they are assisting with the flushing water in the toilets, so when these incidents occur, the main water has to be shut and toilets don’t work,” says Badroodien.
The testing booth is situated inside the staff parking yard of the clinic and was delivered on Thursday 24 December.
The City had replaced the aluminium trimmings of the Covid-19 testing booth and installed a wooden door which was subsequently stolen on Monday 8 February.
The cost of these damages is still being calculated, he says.
Incidents of robberies of City health staff have also taken place in Khayelitsha and Crossroads recently, where staff were robbed at gunpoint, received death threats and were left traumatised.
This is amid the continued theft and vandalism, with attacks recently taking place at facilities such as Parkwood and Lavender Hill clinics.
Children played on the roof of the Lavender Hill clinic and tried to remove the cage that protects the extractor fan, and at the Parkwood facility, the motor from the Jojo tank was stolen. The Parkwood incident took place sometime over the weekend between Friday 22 and Monday 25 January.
In the previous week vandals damaged the electric fence at the back of the facility.
The tank was installed in 2019 and is crucial to daily operations at the clinic, with the estimated replacement cost of the Jojo tank being R10 000.
“Our staff are on the frontline of this pandemic and it is unacceptable that they face additional threats from the very communities they serve. Staff are doing what they can to monitor compliance with health protocols for everyone’s safety, but if they are not allowed to do this, we are heading for disaster in terms of infection figures,” says Badroodien.
“The money we spend on increased safety measures could have been used elsewhere. Criminals are taking more than just the possessions of hard working staff members, they are robbing entire communities of much needed facilities and infrastructure.”
Additional security measures have been put in place to guard staff, says Badroodien.
But officials are calling on residents to assist in safeguarding infrastructure.
“The incidents seem to take place over weekends when the clinic is quiet. The community can make a habit of looking out for and reporting suspicious people hanging around the building on weekends or after hours when the clinic is closed,” says Badroodien.
“Vandalism, theft and arson at City facilities are selfish, short-sighted criminal activities that have a long term effect of depriving communities of much needed services and access to facilities. It is especially the vulnerable groups in communities, our children and senior citizens, that are affected the most.”
Badroodien continues that criminals trespassing on City property and who break down play equipment at community parks are stealing opportunities from children.
“Opportunities to play and learn. We simply cannot and will not allow this,” he says.