File picture: City of Johannesburg/Arrive Alive website

Port Elizabeth - Members of an ambulance crew were attacked and robbed in Port Elizabeth on Monday, the Eastern Cape Department of Health said in a statement. 

Department spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said the incident occurred at around 3am in Joe Slovo while the ambulence crew had been transporting an asthmatic patient to hospital.

“While transporting the patient to hospital, at the Chatty Dip crossing on the R75 route, a car believed to be a golf hatchback was driving ahead of the ambulance.”

Kupelo said the the crew reported that the golf made a u-turn and flicked its headlights to warn the ambulance.

“But the ambulance crew did not suspect anything was wrong and drove towards the intersection.”

He said the ambulance crew was soon forced to a stop because the intersection had been barricaded.

Kupelo said it was alleged that three unknown men appeared from the dark and approached the ambulance.

He said they allegedly used an object to smash the diver's side window of the ambulance - injuring the ambulance attendant's left hand and wrist in the process.

The second crew member and patient were also allegedly robbed of their personal belongings while the left rear rim wheel of the ambulance  was also damaged.

Kupelo said the crew members, who were left traumatised, were treated at the Dora Nginza Hospital for their injuries. The crew had also received counseling.

Police were investigating the matter.

“This is a similar modus operandi at the exact same spot where a private ambulance service vehicle got shots fired at it when making a u-turn in an attempt to drive away. Such incidents are condemned with the contempt that they deserve.

Our EMS crew cannot continue working under such conditions as they save lives,” said Kupelo.

Kupelo said when culprits created “no-go zones" for ambulances, it negatively impacted on the people who desperately needed medical attention.

“We are hopeful that the police will prioritise investigating crimes against ambulance crews so that those behind these acts of criminality will be brought to book.”

African News Agency (ANA)