Three Cape Town ambulance staff members are receiving trauma counselling and have been booked off work after they were robbed at gunpoint while on their way to pick up patients in Khayelitsha.
The trio, a male and two women, was driving to Khayelitsha community health centre at around 11am on Monday when three assailants flagged the ambulance down in Mew Way Road and held them up with a gun.
Spokesperson for the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Deanna Bessick said two of the assailants flanked the vehicle from both the passenger and driver’s sides while one stood in front of the vehicle with a gun pointed at the staff and “began to threaten the officials”.
“The suspects demanded that the officials hand them their wallets and cellphones. The male official, who was the driver of the vehicle, began to plead for his wallet after the officials handed it over to the suspects. He begged the suspects to take the cash from his wallet and leave his wallet and identification document behind,” she said.
The ambulance driver had just withdrawn the cash moments before the incident.
“One of the suspects proceeded to slap the male official in his face, threw his wallet on the road and they all fled from the scene,” said Bessick.
The incident was reported to the police, and the area where the incident occurred has now been declared a temporary red zone area.
Dr Shaheem de Vries, EMS director, strongly condemned the high frequency of attacks on ambulance staff in the Western Cape.
“Although there are no serious physical injuries in most cases, these attacks leave EMS officials severely traumatised. They go beyond and above the call of duty, by risking their lives daily to save the lives of the people in communities,” he said.
“We are urging the public to protect and support EMS officials. It is the most vulnerable who are the most affected by these attacks. We are calling on the community to work closely with us to eradicate this criminal behaviour,” he said.
De Vries urged those who may have information on the ambulance staff attacks to report it to police.
In April the province recorded 18 attacks on EMS officials.
There were 53 attacks on EMS officials between January 1 and October 5.
TimesLIVE (TMG Digital)