Call for police to escort emergency crews after KZN medic shot dead in attack
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Durban – There are growing calls to beef up security for emergency crews following an attack on medics in KwaZulu-Natal in the early hours of Monday morning.
Phumzile Dlamini, an Intermediate life support paramedic with 10 years service, was shot dead.
She and her crew mate picked up a wounded patient when they were detoured to the home of a second patient when they came under attack.
The Gauteng Department of Health said cartridges of high-calibre bullets were found at the scene. Dlamini was 40-years-old and a mom of three.
DA spokesperson on Health, Dr Rishigen Viranna, said ambulances should be escorted by police.
"There must be urgent steps put in place until the 'whole-of-society' approach takes hold in communities and the justice system holds attackers to account. In this regard, the DA has continuously called for police escorts for paramedics driving into high-risk crimes areas," he said.
Viranna said this incident was not the first when it comes to KZN’s paramedics.
"In fact, being a paramedic has become a very dangerous job with numerous attacks, assaults and robberies in the line of duty. Unfortunately, the Department of Health has taken very few steps to ensure that these critical healthcare workers are kept safe. The justice system has also failed our paramedics, with very few arrests and no convictions following these attacks," he said.
The ANC in KZN has also weighed in on the attack.
"We condemn the attack in the strongest terms and urge all our residents across the province to protect paramedics while rendering such an important essential service. This inhumane behaviour will result in personnel refusing to take calls in fear of their lives," said ANC provincial spokesperson, Nhlakanipho Ntombela.
The party called on law enforcement agencies to prioritise such cases to ensure that those involved get arrested.
In July private ambulances were prevented from attending to emergencies in Verulam. KZN VIP Medical said they were unable to reach a critically sick patient after people pelted a response vehicle with rocks and stones.