Four gunmen have made off with a 4x4 vehicle, 14 computers, three television sets and a microwave oven from a clinic in KwaZulu-Natal.
KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu condemned the seemingly well-orchestrated armed robbery at Injabulo Clinic in Camperdown which took place in the early hours of Monday morning.
It was preceded by another armed robbery at Mvini Primary School, where an undisclosed number of computers were taken, prompting suspicion that the same syndicate was involved.
Simelane-Zulu said she was disgusted by both incidents, which she has described as "morally reprehensible".
It is alleged that two men driving a Toyota Quantum approached security guards at the clinic and asked for water to help cool the vehicle, which they claimed was overheating.
It is believed that, as the two guards were distracted while attending to the two men, two of their accomplices were busy cutting a hole in the fence in the backyard of the clinic.
"Within moments, the guards were cornered and overpowered by the men. Their hands were bound with cable ties and ordered to lie down on the floor, while the armed men ransacked the clinic’s consulting rooms, reception area, and data capturing room," said Simelane-Zulu.
The robbers' haul – which included the 14 computers, two flat screen TVs, an old-style analogue TV, a microwave oven and a 30m electric extension cord – were then loaded into the Toyota Quantum.
The robbers then demanded the keys to the clinic's white Toyota bakkie, with departmental markings on the sides.
'Dismayed and disgusted'
The vehicle had been used for community health outreach programmes.
The guards were then taken into a storeroom and locked inside, before the robbers fled. The guards were found at dawn by a patient who had arrived at the facility before others.
After hearing the guards' screams, the patient summoned help from nurses living in adjoining properties.
"We are completely taken aback, dismayed and disgusted by this incident. It is a crying shame. You just know that something has gone terribly wrong in society when a place that the community turns to for its healthcare needs, such as a clinic, is targeted and destroyed in such fashion. Even during apartheid, healthcare workers and the facilities where they worked were spared from harm.
"They were respected, but clearly not anymore. We condemn this, as it is morally reprehensible. We call upon all our communities to take ownership of their health facilities, and not allow something like this to continue.
"They must squeeze out, isolate and expose all of these criminals who are holding us to ransom when we are trying to deliver much-needed healthcare services, because someone, somewhere knows them. We call on the police to do everything possible to bring these perpetrators to book," said Simelane-Zulu.
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said a case of robbery was being investigated by Umsunduzi police officers.