A female paramedic narrowly escaped from her captors following the armed hijacking of an ambulance at a clinic in Mpumalanga.
The paramedic was among a number of health officials who were ambushed at Phola Nsikazi Clinic near Kabokweni in the early hours of Sunday.
“The Emergency Management Personnel were confronted by three criminals after returning to their station from a call out. Two hijackers held up the security personnel at gunpoint, took their personal belongings, and security equipment such as handcuffs, and the third hijacker forcefully took the ambulance inside the Clinic premises with the paramedics on board.
“The male paramedic tried to escape, and the hijackers shot him in the leg and left him at the gate of the clinic. The ambulance sped off with the female paramedic inside. Later, the female paramedic managed to escape while the hijackers were busy fiddling with the tracker system,” said provincial health department spokesperson Dumisani Malamule.
Malamule said the ambulance was abandoned after the hijackers failed to locate its tracking system.
Mpumalanga Health MEC Sasekani Manzini visited the clinic yesterday, where she assessed the damage and provided emotional support to workers.
“The last time I visited the clinic, issues of security were raised, and immediately the department erected a palisade fence on top of the current fencing. We installed a security gate plus a boom gate, turnstile, and CCTV cameras. We are very disturbed that one of the paramedics was shot and is currently admitted to hospital. We wish him a speedy recovery,” she said.
Manzini said the affected staff members would be referred for professional counselling.
She further urged ward councillors, the clinic committee members, and the police to take the lead in protecting the staff and the facility.
“Health facilities are built to provide healthcare services to the communities, not to fight criminals. People must refrain from attacking health officials and stealing the little scarce resources we have for their own barbaric interest,” Manzini said.
According to the provincial Department of Community Safety, Security and Liaison, these incidents were concerning.
The recent robbery comes after a similar incident that happened at Carolina Hospital last weekend.
“It is reported that the tavern owner was fighting with some of the patrons. The police were called to the scene, and they reportedly responded by firing bullets at the gang that had allegedly attacked the tavern owner. Subsequent to the fight, those who were injured were taken to Carolina Hospital.
“When the person who was brought to the hospital for assistance succumbed to injuries sustained, the group then started vandalising the hospital. They also attacked and robbed the hospital staff on duty at the time,” said department spokesperson Moeti Mmusi.
Community Safety, Security and Liaison MEC Vusi Shongwe called for law enforcement officials to become vigilant.
“While we are working around the clock to safeguard healthcare facilities and personnel, we also need communities to assist by reporting any suspicious activities or people to the police. The attacks on these facilities and personnel are the worst forms of lawlessness. Therefore, communities must work with us and expose evil-doers,” said Shongwe.