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Hospital security fails yet again with another patient shot dead in Durban

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Brazen attacks on patients and staff continue with apparent impunity, with a patient shot dead in a Durban hospital, writes MedicalBrief. A report in MedicalBrief in September of last year showed that more that 30 hospitals in South Africa had reported serious security incidents in the previous five months.

Police are searching for two people, while the Health Department re-evaluates its security measures after the incident, reports News24. It quotes police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala as saying the armed men entered Clairwood Hospital in Mobeni at around 18:30 on Friday of last week. “(They) fatally shot a 47-year-old patient.” According to KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, the “execution-style fatal shooting” happened in the male surgical ward. The patient, a foreign national, was receiving treatment for previous gunshot wounds, she said.

“Although it is not always possible to predict an incident of this nature, which appears well planned, the fact that these perpetrators were able to escape without getting apprehended by security or law enforcement does call into question our preparedness, as a department, to react effectively to such acts,” said Simelane-Zulu. “It means that our system is not as effective as we would have liked to think. Notwithstanding the fact that these people were armed, and that they also threatened our security guards, we should have had a system in place that ought to have made it difficult for them to get away.”

She said they would urgently have to look at their security protocols and make improvements within their limited financial means.

The report says no arrests have been made.

Simelane-Zulu said in a report in The Times: “We are obviously shocked at this brazen display of violence right inside a health care facility. It is a flagrant disregard for the law, and a display of the ruthlessness of the criminal element in our society. Although it is not always possible to predict an incident of this nature, which appears well-planned, the fact that these perpetrators were able to escape without getting apprehended by security or law enforcement does call into question our preparedness as a department to react effectively to such acts.

“It means that our system is not as effective as we would have liked to think. Notwithstanding the fact that these people were armed, and that they also threatened our security guards, we should have had a system in place that ought to have made it difficult for them to get away. We will have to urgently re-look at our security protocols and make improvements as far as possible, within our limited financial means.”

The report said the department has offered counselling to staff and patients who witnessed the incident.

The IFP and DA have called for the KZN Health MEC to improve safety and security measures at public health facilities in the province, says a News24 report. Spokesperson on Health Ncamisile Nkwanyana said the IFP was concerned at the frequency of criminals “doing as they please” in government hospitals. “This incident is a clear indication that the KZN Department of Health has failed dismally to take the issue of hospital safety seriously.

The political party further highlighted government’s promise to put police in all public health care facilities, which is yet to materialise, according to Nkwanyana.

The DA in KZN expressed similar sentiments, saying the shooting followed recent violent attacks at other health facilities in the province, including KwaMsane, Nkonjeni and RK Khan Hospital.

The South African Medical Association (SAMA) KwaZulu-Natal branch said it was shocked at another violent incident at a healthcare facility in the province. Chair of the Sama KZN branch, Dr Zanele Bikitsha is quoted in IoL as saying: “We are left to again ask how safe our healthcare facilities are and, by implication, how safe our patients and healthcare providers are.”

She said SAMA KZN raised the issue of the latest shooting with the provincial department of health, while at the same time also highlighting several issues. “SAMA KZN would like to reiterate that the security of our members, other healthcare professionals, staff, the public, and patients is of utmost importance. We cannot allow a situation to continue where employees are subjected to unsafe working conditions while providing essential health services to the people of KZN,” Bikitsha said.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union in the KwaZulu-Natal Province is greatly dismayed and appalled by the recent execution style fatal shooting. This shocking incident reveals the gaps and inadequacies that underpins the security services of the public health institutions in the province.

News24 report

The Times report

Full News24 report

Full IoL report

Full NEHAWU statement

See also

More than 30 SA hospitals report serious security incidents in past 5 months

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