A patient was killed by an angry mob while being treated inside an ambulance at Mshongoville informal settlement in Atteridgeville on Monday night.
Tshwane Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel were left traumatised after being attacked while treating the patient.
According to the Gauteng Department of Health, they received a call around 7:44pm for an ambulance to be sent to the scene.
The police were asked to escort the ambulance to the scene where the angry mob had assaulted the patient. When the EMS arrived, the patient was found in a critical condition lying on the ground surrounded by the community.
The EMS treated the patient and prepared to transport him to a nearby hospital.
“As the ambulance was getting ready to leave the scene community members reacted and started throwing stones and barricaded the road to prevent the ambulance from leaving. They accused the patient of some crime and demanded justice on the spot,” said department’s spokesperson Tshepo Shawa.
The terrified EMS members ran for cover as the mob assaulted the patient – who was on a stretcher inside the ambulance – with rocks.
The ambulance was damaged and equipment was stolen during the attack.
The mob had accused the patient of committing an unspecified crime.
The Gauteng MEC for Health and Wellness, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, pleaded with communities to refrain from vigilantism and attacking health workers.
“This is totally unacceptable. We cannot allow society to degenerate like this. Mob justice or taking the law into our own hands cannot be the answer to addressing some of the socio-economic issues affecting communities. There has to be a better way,” said Nkomo-Ralehoko.
A case was opened with the police.
“Attacks on our personnel have dire consequences as they make it difficult for them to discharge the constitutional mandate to provide access to healthcare services,” added Nkomo-Ralehoko.
Attacks on EMS members
The department revealed that 12 incidents of attacks on the EMS personnel have been reported since the start of the year.
The attacks include attempted sexual assault, hijacking, damage to ambulances after being hit with
stones, and armed robbery where cell phones, wallets and bags were taken.
The attacks have led to emergency medical workers getting police escorts in high-risk areas.
“The rollout of safety and security equipment on personnel and vehicles is at the final stages. The rollout of panic button devices linked to the Emergency Communication Centre (ECC) in all ambulances and response cars linked to security services in identified areas is also being finalised,” added Shawa.
The EMS personnel are also provided with counselling sessions.
Compiled by Kgomotso Phooko