Cape Flats health staff besieged by criminals
The crime scourge requires an urgent cure as Cape Town health staff — and patients — fear for their lives.
Staff at various Cape Flats clinics have been robbed at gunpoint. Computers and personal protection equipment have been stolen in other clinics. Another one has no electricity after cables were stolen.
Cape Town councillor Zahid Badroodien, the mayoral committee member for community services and health, had described the situation as “untenable”.
“The violence levelled against the City of Cape Town’s health staff, the continuous threat of bodily harm, and trauma inflicted on both those on the front line and their patients have reached untenable levels,” said Badroodien.
Badroodien said the latest incident happened on Thursday morning “when armed robbers stormed the Crossroads 1 clinic, where 15 staff members and two security guards were on duty”.
“The gunmen gained entry into the facility via the turnstile gate entrance and forced their way into the clinic. A clerk who had tried to keep a door closed was slapped as the robbers discussed whether to shoot him.”
He said the gunmen robbed patients and staff, before pistol-whipping the facility manager and taking her phone, laptop, dongle, jewellery and the clinic keys.
“At the time, the district driver was doing his deliveries and he too was robbed of his personal vehicle car keys, wedding band, home keys, car key tags and a bag with personal belongings,” he said.
“The vehicle was also taken, but retrieved later by city law enforcement.”
Badroodien said the city arranged transport for the staff and “night security was organised and a notice was put up to indicate to patients that the clinic is temporarily closed”.
“It is unconscionable to think that the very staff who are on the front line, who put their health at risk to help others, have their lives and safety threatened while busy with their duties,” he said.
“In Samora Machel, the Weltevreden Valley Clinic is still closed after staff were robbed at gunpoint more than a month ago, while the Mzamomhle clinic in Brown’s Farm is under threat as patients have been robbed at gunpoint outside the facility on numerous occasions. There is no electricity at the Uitsig Clinic as the cables were stolen.”
Badroodien listed more incidents.
“The Khayelitsha environmental health office in Harare is temporarily closed after burglars made off with computers, a microwave, two televisions, a laptop and PPE on May 2 2021,” he said.
“The office will not be able to render any direct public interface services for a considerable time due to the current situation. This is the tip of the iceberg and there are many incidents of threats of violence towards staff and patients, attempted robberies and burglaries, and the wanton destruction and vandalism of property.
“Our staff are serving our communities tirelessly and with dedication. It is also our communities who suffer. Yet, the perpetrators who attack and terrorise our staff come from those communities. Residents who know who these criminals are need to speak up and speak out. This is a situation that cannot be allowed to continue.”