Cape Town - Police have called on residents in Mitchells Plain to help them find a robber who held a paramedic at gunpoint and stole medical equipment.
The incident is the fourth involving medics in Mitchells Plain since June.
In 2012, there were at least 10 incidents. The Western Cape Department of Health said staff had been told that their personal safety was a primary concern, and if they felt unsafe they could leave or ask for a police escort.
The latest incident took place on Thursday.
Police spokesman Andre Traut said the paramedic, 23, was in Keeromsberg Street in Tafelsig at 5.40am to attend to a patient when he was held up.
He said the paramedic had returned to the ambulance to fetch his medical bag when the robber, wearing brown three-quarter pants and a green T-shirt, took the bag, which contained medical equipment.
The robber then fled.
“The metro ambulance service and all other essential services are providing a crucial and life-saving service to our community,” Traut said.
“The community must take responsibility and ensure that all paramedics deliver their service in a safe and secure environment.
“We are calling on all the community structures and street committees to assist the SAPS in apprehending the suspect.”
On Sunday, Mitchells Plain Community Police Forum spokesman Abie Isaacs condemned the robbery.
“We’ve been asking the community in that part of the area to come forward with information,” Isaacs said.
He said it was “saddening” that essential services were being viewed as “soft targets”.
He urged medics to be vigilant.
He said he hoped the community police forum would build closer relations with paramedics as he did not want the situation to reach the point where emergency teams would have to find a police escort before responding to an emergency.
Emergency Medical Services (EMS) spokesman Robert Daniels said he was not aware of the Tafelsig incident.
The paramedic who was robbed might have been from a private company, Daniels added.
He said if EMS personnel thought it was unsafe to enter a specific area, they could ask for a police escort.
Daniels said it was rare that paramedics would not enter an area or would have to leave it because it was too dangerous and there was no police escort available.
Last year, the Western Cape Department of Health said areas in which there was concern for the safety of paramedics included Delft, Elsies River, Manenberg, Mitchells Plain, Khayelitsha and Lavender Hill.
Anyone with information about the latest incident in Tafelsig should contact Warrant Officer Trevor Nash at083 226 2004 or CrimeStop at 08600 10111.