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02 February 2017


The Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa) is underwhelmed by the latest statements of the Western Cape Health Member of the Executive Council (MEC) regarding the protection of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) members.  The Union says that the Minister is still focusing on the long-agreed issue of police escorts into no-go zones, while the attacks continue – now in other parts of the province.


The Health MEC, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo on Wednesday made statements regarding the attempts to address the recent spate of attacks on EMS members.  She said that EMS response to incidents in the so-called red zones will be halted unless such response teams are accompanied by the South African Police Service (SAPS).  She also reported that the Department had started with situational awareness training for EMS members and that the windows of ambulances were being tinted with smash-and-grab safety film.


“Hospersa is frankly underwhelmed by these statements,” said Hospersa Western Cape Provincial Chairperson, Michael Serelina.  “We have agreed on these things long ago, and many of our other proposals tabled have still not been considered.  The mere banning of EMS responses to certain zones does not solve the problem.  As we said in our earlier statements, this also has an ethical component when one takes into account our duty to serve all communities, regardless of socioeconomic standing,” Serelina said.


Hospersa received reports of more incidences of violence against EMS members in this very week.  On the night of 31 January 2017 another EMS crew was robbed at gunpoint.  This incident happened in J Section in Khayelitsha.  The next night the same happened to Ambulance 209 in Hexpark, Worcester.  The crew of Ambulance 209 is reported to be unharmed and they are currently undergoing counselling to deal with the trauma they experienced.


“We feel that what is being done is too little, too late.  The attacks are now also happening outside of the red zones, and the MEC seems to be clutching at straws,” said Serelina.  “It makes one think of Nero playing the violin while Rome is burning.  The Department (of Health), both nationally and provincially, is not doing enough.  We wrote an open letter to the MEC in January, and our federation, FEDUSA [the Federation of Unions of South Africa] wrote a similar letter to Minister [of Health, Dr Aaron] Motsoaledi.  We asked for urgent intervention to protect our members when serving the community.  We have had a response from the MEC, but not yet from the Minister,” Serelina concluded.



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For interviews please contact Hospersa’s Western Cape Provincial Chairperson, Michael Serelina on 079-899-2844.


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