KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu has described as ‘sad and barbaric’ a faked emergency call which resulted in the shooting and robbery of two paramedics in the Amatikwe area of Inanda, north of Durban.
According to the Department of Health (DOH), it is alleged that the KZN Department of Health’s Emergency Medical Services ambulance crew had responded to an emergency maternity case, after receiving a phone call around 3am. “When they arrived in the vicinity of the false scene, they met a guide who was due to give them directions. He led them to a dirt road, where he produced a firearm and demanded their valuables. During a scuffle, he fired shots from the back of the ambulance. While the crew members were trying to flee from the moving vehicle, the male crew member was shot in the back while his female colleague sustained a gunshot wound to the wrist. At this stage, it appears that only a cellphone was stolen.
Fortunately for the paramedics, a police van had been patrolling in the vicinity of the incident. The van was flagged down, and the police alerted other EMS paramedics who then came to the scene and rushed their injured colleagues to hospital, where they are receiving medical attention,” the DOH said.
MEC Simelane-Zulu has expressed her shock at the incident, and has called on communities to work with law enforcement authorities to bring to book culprits who are responsible for such incidents.
“We are extremely shocked and, quite frankly, outraged by what has happened. It is inconceivable that someone sat down and planned to lure our paramedics, so that he could rob and wound them in this manner. That this person decided to take advantage of the caring and responsive nature of our paramedics – who attend to emergencies regardless of where the call comes from or what time – is truly sad and nothing short of barbaric. Our paramedics could have lost their lives here. These are breadwinners, with people who depend on them for survival.
When incidents such as these occur, you really start to ask yourself questions. How can you tell if a call is about a real emergency? And what will happen if we stop responding to emergency calls at night altogether? People will die because this is an essential service,” said MEC Simelane-Zulu.
“That is why it is extremely important that people in our communities work together with law enforcement authorities to identify and isolate these unscrupulous criminals, so that they can be removed once and for all from our society,” MEC Simelane-Zulu added.
The MEC wishes the injured paramedics a speedy and full recovery.