Cape Town – The ongoing attacks and robberies of essential service crews in Khayelitsha has prompted the Community Policing Forum (CPF) to embark on a campaign to promote the safety and protection of these workers in the community.
The forum said the area had been marred by inhumane and criminal acts against various essential service workers who have come under attack several times and had extreme traumatic experiences while ensuring that the community received required services.
Khayelitsha Site B CPF secretary Phindile George said the attacks on EMS, fire fighters, law enforcement, police and Eskom crew occurred on a daily basis in the area.
“More often than not we have heard of robberies of EMS personnel, medical staff, municipal workers, Eskom workers, including SAPS members coming under attack at times. Eskom does not enter certain areas without a police escort. Medical staff are robbed daily in Site C Nolungile Clinic and Site B Day Hospital. This is why we call upon communities to protect them.
“Also the reason for the fire that left people without homes on 1st January was because the firefighters had to wait for an escort from police while the fire was destroying homes,” he said.
George said they would engage all the affected essential services through their management systems and called on the community to ensure their safety was guaranteed.
“The campaign has kick-started and people will be seeing us through Neighbourhood Watch Volunteers not only blitzing, but assisting to monitor when these services arrive in our communities. We will also ask communities to purchase whistles to use when there are issues and also report known culprits who harm essential service workers,” he said.
City’s Fire and Rescue service’s Jermaine Carelse said 24 incidents were recorded of staff members assaulted while trying to attend to fires in Khayelitsha since August last year.
“These senseless attacks on staff members have a negative impact on emergency service delivery and in some instances fire stations had to be closed as staff had to go for trauma counselling. The attacks on firefighters is a serious issue as it leads to a slower response time to life-threatening incidents.
“If a situation is volatile and there is a possibility of some elements in the community attacking fire crews, the City of Cape Town will not be able to render an emergency service and further endanger the lives of staff,” he said.
Carelse said communities should assist the City and allow trained fire crews to assist those in need.
Emergency Medical Services and Forensic Pathology Services spokesperson Deanna Bessick said there had been 14 attacks on EMS officials in Khayelitsha from January last year.
“We are continually exploring new ways to ensure that our staff are able to return home safely every day. There is an EMS staff safety plan that details our initiatives, this has not changed and the efforts are ongoing,” she said.