The City of Joburg Emergency Management Services has condemned a recent incident where angry members of the Eldorado Park community stoned a fire engine that was responding to a fire incident and injured three firefighters.
The three injured firefighters had to be hospitalised at Milpark Hospital, the Joburg EMS said.
Joburg EMS spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi has cautioned members of the community against attacking staff.
“Just before they got to the incident, they met a group of community members who were protesting in the area.
“They started stoning the fire engine, and three of our firefighters sustained injuries and were taken to Milpark for medical care.
“We are very disturbed by this incident as it disrupts service delivery.
“We are pleading with residents to refrain from attacking the city assets because now they won't have a fire engine because this one is now out of commission until it is repaired,” he said sternly.
Gauteng police spokesperson Colonel Dimakatso Nevhuhulwi said police had no records of such an incident taking place in the case or occurrence book register.
Mulaudzi provided an Occurrence Book (OB) entry to IOL News, but the SAPS said they could not verify the incident.
Meanwhile, it was not the first time city officials have been attacked while conducting their work.
Other council agencies, including Joburg City Power, have in the past warned residents to desist from attacking and robbing staff, as that could force the city to withdraw services in that area until there was a security or Joburg Metro Police escort available for them to conduct their work.
– In November last year, a City Power official who was on the way to restore power in Pennyville, was held at gunpoint, robbed of his cellphone, and nearly hijacked.
– In Randburg, also in November, a team of electricians was also robbed of their belongings at gunpoint.
– In October, two women officials were robbed at gunpoint while on duty on Wemmer Street, Roodepoort.
– In July, three City Power workers were attacked in Lenasia while responding to a faulty meter problem. The two vehicles they were travelling in were also hijacked during that incident, and the cars were later found abandoned in Lawley, near the Meriting squatter camp in Lenasia South.
– In June, two officials and an Alexandra councillor were nearly robbed of their belongings at Wanderers in Cydna Substation.
City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena said as a result, a decision was taken to withdraw overnight services in hostile areas, while adding that the power utility dealt with up to 4,000 outage complaints on the very worst days.
“These blatant and cowardly acts of criminality are making the work of City Power employees increasingly difficult.
“Almost every month, cases of intimidation, assault, and robbery come to our attention and are reported to the police.
“Our team members are subjected to traumatic and violent experiences at the hands of merciless criminals in various parts of the city.
“This problem is deeply troubling because so many other employees have also been held at gunpoint, robbed of cellphones, laptops, and toolboxes, hijacked, and injured to the point of hospitalisation, all while on duty and servicing communities across Johannesburg this year alone,” said Mangena.
He said they were concerned that the JMPD and private security had to be utilised in some areas to ward off attacks on technicians.
“We urge residents with information to come forward and assist law enforcement officials in ensuring that they arrest these perpetrators, so that our teams can work without fear of losing their lives from violence,” he said.