WATCH: A trauma team on the battlefield of the Cape Flats

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Cape Town has the highest number of reported assaults in SA and it is on the gang war battlefield of the Cape Flats that much of the violence occurs. A TimesLive report and video.

Gunshot wounds, stabbings and blunt trauma are the order of the day inside one of South Africa’s most notorious ‘hidden’ public spaces, the emergency unit at Mitchells Plain District Hospital in Cape Town. This is invariably where many victims of the Cape Flats’ simmering gang wars are brought.

The Times reports that for Dr Raisa Aysen, one of the dedicated medical professionals working there, domestic abuse and other forms of interpersonal trauma are all in a night’s work, especially as the end of each month approaches. The video is part of TimesLIVE’s “On shift” – a 10-part video series sponsored by 1Life Insurance.

Aysen and her team are “on their feet all night” at the facility, she says, stitching up bloody wounds but at the same time she describes the joy of saving a life. A tiny radio plays softly in the background, keeping the team motivated and awake during their gruelling shift. Aysen is not one to shy away from blood or the reasons why it flows so freely in this notorious part of the Western Cape.

“I get to do magic with my hands,” she says. Victim after victim arrive on stretchers and, no matter what, the medical team have each other’s backs. There is no such thing as “taking a break” because, she says calmly, “all the patients have to be seen to”.

According to the latest crime figures by Statistics South Africa, Cape Town had the highest number of reported assaults in the country over the 2014 – 2015 period – a whopping 38,780 cases.

The report says Mitchells Plain contributed significantly to this, and drugs and alcohol played a big part in the assaults. In 40% of home assault cases and 33% of street assault cases, the perpetrator was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The Times report and video

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