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Spate of attacks reveal training failure of hospital security guards

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With another spate of attacks at Eastern Cape hospitals and clinics this weekend, concerns are being raised over the training of security guards at the healthcare institutions, says a Daily Maverick report. Amid growing concern about security at Eastern Cape hospitals and clinics, the provincial health department has admitted that the security guards, provided to them by outside security companies have “inappropriate training” and are not able to respond to violent and armed criminals.

Eastern Cape Health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said they are considering arming security officers with pepper spray and stun guns. “Our view is that their training is inappropriate and inadequate to respond effectively to violent and armed criminals,” Kupelo said. “We raised this when we met our security partners.”

National Health Department spokesperson Popo Maja said they are not considering changing the rules that make hospitals gun-free zones, thereby preventing security guards from being armed. Kupelo said in most cases criminal activity at clinics and hospitals was a “spillover” from communities. “This is an extremely disturbing trend that requires a response from the community because the hospitals and clinics need to remain an open public service that is accessible to patients.

The report says the district manager for Emergency Medical Services in Nelson Mandela Bay, Brenhan Metune said that there had been a marked increase in the number of attacks on emergency medical services (EMS) staff – both nationally and internationally.

Also, Khaya Sodidi from the Democratic Nurses Union of South Africa (Denosa) in the Eastern Cape is quoted in the report as saying they were very worried about the security situation in clinics and hospitals. “Actually, it is not only in this province, we are concerned about this situation throughout the country,” he said.

Five criminals “pretending to be sick” managed to gain entry to the Joubertina Hospital premises on Friday in order to rob it. “When the security guard opened the gate so that they could get the help he thought they needed, the men pulled guns on the security guard and demanded (keys) to the vehicles. The five men then stole an Isuzu bakkie and a Toyota Corolla,” Provincial Health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo is quoted in a report in The Citizen as saying.

The security guard was found tied up with tape but unharmed. Both cars were found shortly afterwards by police, abandoned not far from the hospital.

The report says the incident comes on the back of a state vehicle being stolen from a clinic in Libode on Thursday night. The police were alerted but the car has not yet been recovered.

Kupelo has condemned both incidents, calling the criminals “brazen thugs”.

Daily Maverick report

The Citizen report

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