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19 May 2017


The Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa) is alarmed by the attack on an ambulance in Limpopo last week.  The attacks on Emergency Medical Services (EMS) workers has been at an increase throughout the country since 2016.  The Union calls on government to address the EMS workers’ plea for safe working conditions.

 According to reports, an ambulance was hijacked on 12 May 2017 at Ga-mashamthane village, next to Burgersfort, in Limpopo.  The incident took place around 22:30 when EMS workers were responding to a house call in that village.  No injuries on the EMS staff was reported and the ambulance has since been recovered by the police and is currently at Praktisser Police Station. Hospersa EMS members at Dilokong Hospital, which services the area [Tubatse Local Municipality], have taken a resolution to only attend to house calls when escorted by the South African Police Services (SAPS).  They have also resolved that they will continue to service the area for other emergencies like accident scenes as well as providing support to clinics.

 “Our members are well within their rights to demand safe and healthy working conditions,” said Hospersa Limpopo Provincial Secretary, JJ Mashego.  “The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act makes provision for employees to refuse to work in unsafe conditions, however the conundrum for EMS workers is that their refusal could lead to communities being deprived of such a critical service.  The presence of the SAPS when responding to house calls will go a long way in improving their safety,” added Mashego.

 Hospersa has previously called for national intervention from the politicians to address the scourge of attacks on EMS workers in the country.  These attacks have been increasing at an alarming rate where this year has seen several incidents reported in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), Gauteng, Free State and now Limpopo.  In the case of the Western Cape where there were over 100 attacks in 2016, which prompted Hospersa to write an open letter to the Western Cape Health Member of the Executive Council (MEC) about the issue.  The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) – of which Hospersa is an affiliate – also wrote a similar letter to the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi requesting intervention at national level.

 “Government’s response in addressing this issue has been too slow,” said Mashego.  “We have been proactive in addressing the issue and have proposed several sustainable solutions which includes police escorts, violent incident training as well as state funded post-traumatic stress treatment for the victims.  Our plea has fallen on deaf ears while attacks escalate country-wide,” added Mashego.

 “We can not have a situation where government continues as if it is business as usual while the system degenerates,” said Mashego.  “The safety of EMS workers needs to be prioritised as they are the first to respond to medical emergencies when called upon.  Neglecting their plea for safe working conditions would only paralyse the service and deprive community members medical attention at a time when they need it the most,” concluded Mashego.



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For interviews please contact Hospersa Provincial Secretary JJ Mashego on 083-657-6626. 

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