Durban - The shooting and robbery of two paramedics has reignited the call for teachers, paramedics and municipal workers to start carrying guns for protection.
The paramedics were lured by a fake emergency call to Inanda, inland of Durban, early Wednesday morning where they were shot and robbed of a cellphone.
Recently, a teacher was gunned down at a primary school, and a video of a pupil assaulting a teacher was circulated on social media last week.
Last year, emergency services called for paramedics to carry guns because they were being attacked while attending to emergencies.
The Educators Union of South Africa (Eusa) on Wednesday escalated its call for teachers across the country to arm themselves and be in a position to defend themselves amid escalating incidents of violence in schools.
Eusa president Scelo Bhengu said: “Teachers are being butchered in schools. Teachers, defend yourselves. Our call for teachers to arm themselves in self-defence is misconstrued deliberately by those who benefit out of the shenanigans in our schools; the drug dealers, armed robbers, rapists, heartless criminals and beneficiaries of the school shenanigans,” he added.
Bhengu said their calls for two police officers to be stationed at every school were turned down.
“Teachers have had enough and shall from now defend themselves in the workplace,” he said, calling on teachers to register with shooting ranges and apply for a firearm to defend themselves.
Oliver Wright, South African Private Ambulance & Emergency Services Association (Sapaesa) chief executive, said they did not encourage EMS practitioners to carry firearms while on duty and when working within the ambulance environment.
“We see regular occurrences of police and security officers being targeted to steal their firearms. These officers are often fatally wounded simply for the purpose of stealing their firearms.
“If EMS practitioners also start carrying firearms, they, too, will become the targets of this sort of crime,” Wright said.
He said the SAPS was understaffed and under-resourced, and could not accompany ambulance crews in to potentially dangerous situations.
The KZN Education Department acknowledged the safety of teachers and learners was its responsibility, but said it did not have money to tighten security.
Spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa said violence cannot be solved with violence. “You’re fuelling the problem. You’re fuelling violence,” Mthethwa said of teachers carrying guns.
Community Safety spokesperson Mluleki Mntungwa said school safety committees, whose role was to ensure a safe environment, would be strengthened.
Lizette Lancaster, Institute for Security Studies’ Crime and Justice hub manager, said carrying guns might lead to more problems as firearms often made people targets of crime.
She said further investigation and research was needed in how people could be safeguarded.
eThekwini tanker drivers were also recently attacked and assaulted while providing water to stricken areas. Municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said security was always made available to protect drivers while working in volatile situations. In some cases, service providers hired their own security.