Paramedics are seen as soft targets for criminals to attack while they are attending to emergency calls. File Picture
Paramedics are seen as soft targets for criminals to attack while they are attending to emergency calls. File Picture

Cape Town - Western Cape Emergency Medical Services (EMS) celebrated after a man convicted of attacking its personnel was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment by the Khayelitsha Magistrate's Court. 

Siphelo Manunga, 21, was handed a 12 year jail term after he was convicted of robbery with aggravated circumstances. He had attacked two paramedics on duty in Mandela Park, in Khayelitsha, on December 27.

The regional court room gallery was packed with paramedics dressed in uniform including NonzwakazI Mkungela, one of his victims.

Eastern District EMS station manager Lynold Griffiths said Mkungela was still nervous and would need to seek counselling again after seeing the perpetrator.

“This is a victory for the Khayelitsha district. Some of the other cases still pending are linked to multiple cases, hence they take so long. This is the third case, the second case was thrown out of court because of lack of evidence and witnesses were afraid to come forward. But this case was different,” he said.

Griffiths appealed to the community to help protect paramedics.

EMS Eastern District Station Manager Lynold Griffiths. Video: Zodidi Dano/Cape Argus

Handing down the sentence Magistrate Allen Boswell said robbery was a serious crime in the Khayelitsha district and women and children were easy targets for attackers.

“For the past year on a regular basis we read about paramedics being robbed. This usually happens when they are responding to calls,” he said.

EMS provincial chief Phumzile Papu, in his testimony, told the court there were at least four attacks on paramedics every week.

Papu said 29 EMS staff were booked off sick due to Post Traumatic Stress.

“It is shocking,” said Boswell.

“Society expects the court to protect it from people who rob them. People should feel safe when walking in the streets, going to and from work and for them to do their job in an environment that is safe.

“The court can't allow robbers to keep society hostage.”

Manunga pleaded guilty on August 21 and was convicted that same day.

EMS Eastern District Station Manager Lynold Griffiths. Video: Zodidi Dano/Cape Argus

Boswell said in his plea Manunga had explained how surprised the paramedics were when they were attacked.

“In your plea you said you could see both paramedics were surprised and horrified. You said the woman they were attending to was bleeding profusely,” he said.

Boswell also ordered that Manunga be declared unfit to own a firearm.

Community Safety MEC Dan Plato said: "Key to this sentence is the fact that the court recognised the impact such attacks has on the ability of the Western Cape Government to provide critical services, especially to poor communities.

"The court also recognised the direct and negative impact of such opportunistic crimes on the EMS members of staff and the trauma it causes."

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Cape Argus