Eastern Cape ambulance drivers drove in convoy through Port Elizabeth townships last week, appealing to residents not to attack the people who serve the sick and injured in their communities.
But while EMS staff and their assistants are appealing for protection from community members following a spate of robberies while on duty, the police have said it was not the responsibility of police to escort ambulances into danger areas. According to the Groundup report, a group of about 30 Emergency Medical Services employees drove on Thursday and Friday in ten vehicles through Port Elizabeth townships, appealing to people not to attack them.
“We are not on strike or protesting, but our message to the community is that they should allow us to do our job without fear of being attacked,” said a worker who did not want his name used. He was addressing residents in Captain Street, NU10, Motherwell. “This service is for the community and our job is very important because we assist the sick and the injured. Our members are being attacked day and night. Criminals take valuables like cellphones, money, watches and bags.”
He said workers had stopped attending to patients at their homes unless they were escorted by the police. “We go to townships with police escorts because criminals have robbed us, even in the house while treating patients,“ he added.
But Motherwell Cluster Commander Major General Dawie Rabie said it was not the responsibility of police to escort ambulances. “If we have to escort every other organisation or company experiencing problems, our core functions of policing will be defeated.” He said communities needed to take a stand against such attacks on emergency services.
Spokesperson for MEC for Eastern Cape Health Sindiswa Gomba, Judy Ngoloyi, is quoted in the report as saying that a high level meeting involving the MEC would be held in Port Elizabeth this week to address the issue of security of ambulance personnel.Groundup report