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Ramped up security following killing of hospital patients

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Following the recents killing of at least two patients, the provincial governments of Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape have ramped up security measures, promising scanners, cameras, panic buttons, pepper sprays and stun guns for hospital guards.

The Mpumalanga government has resolved to install scanners, cameras and panic buttons in all health institutions following the murder of a patient at a Witbank hospital. Premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane said the installations would start today to prevent more unfortunate incidents in health institutions, following the murder of a patient at Witbank General Hospital on Saturday.

According to a Sowetan report, the 34-year-old victim was being treated for gunshot wounds and was finished off at the hospital. This triggered nurses and doctors to stage a protest over safety concerns.

“We know that this is not the first incident to take place in our health facilities, we have seen a number of incidents in our facilities. During the current budget which we just passed today (Tuesday), we had to start implementing upgrades in our hospitals. “It’s unfortunate that the incident has caught up with us whilst we were in a process of upgrading security in our hospitals,” said Mtsweni-Tsipane.

Eastern Cape Health is poised to arm security guards working in hospitals with pepper spray and stun guns in a bid to curb attacks on patients and staff, reports The Times. This was after it was earlier reported how a stab wound patient was stabbed to death the previous day inside All Saints Hospital in Ngcobo by a man who had apparently come to “finish him off”.

Provincial health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said criminals were targeting hospitals and clinics. “After meeting unions, the hospital board, Ngcobo mayor Siyabulele Zangqa, the SAPS and traditional leaders, it was agreed that security measures should be improved,” said Kupelo.

The report says civic and medical associations also called for improved security. The SA National Civic Organisation‘s secretary of the Chris Hani region, Mcebisi Mgudlwa, said Ngcobo residents were living in fear after the attack, when nurses and a doctor tending the patient fled for their lives. Mgudlwa called for tactical teams to be deployed at the hospital. “This is not the first time that this has happened,” he said, adding that people entering the All Saints premises were not searched for weapons. “There is no order in that hospital. Security needs to be strengthened. More tactical guards need to be deployed there,” he said.

The report says the SA Medical Association (Sama) called for police to guard hospitals. Sama’s Dr Mzulungile Nodikida said: “Sama calls for an urgent placement of police in all state hospitals in the province.”

“I have always said that one day a doctor or nurses will be killed there.The Times reports that this is the chilling comment from a doctor at the Witbank General Hospital. The report says the doctor is one of the few still tending to patients at the troubled hospital.

Since the shooting, there has been limited access to the hospital, and many of the nurses have abandoned their posts. “On Saturday, we decided we would see only real emergencies, only critical cases, as the nurses are not on duty. A lot of patients have been transferred to other hospitals and many were discharged. Matrons are trying to help,” the doctor said.

According to the report, Mpumalanga Health spokesperson Dumisani Malamule confirmed the hospital was operating on a skeleton staff. He said arrangements had been made with other hospitals, including Middelburg, to take high-priority cases.

Nurses fearing for their safety downed tools at the hospital and patients are feeling the effect, The Times reported earlier. “My younger brother was supposed to go for his chemo today. There’s a strike at general hospital (Witbank). There’s no transport for patients to go to Pretoria for treatment,” wrote one person on Facebook.

The report quotes a nurse who spoke on condition of anonymity as saying it was sad patients had to feel the effect of their protest action. “Sadly, if we don’t go to extremes, no one hears us,” she said.

National Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) spokesperson Sibongiseni Delihlazo said CCTV cameras, metal detectors and better security gates were needed at hospitals. Meanwhile, police are still searching for the suspect involved in the weekend shooting.

Sowetan report

The Times report

The Times report

The Times report

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