Polokwane - The Limpopo Department of Health says criminal elements targeting provincial health facilities are blocking people’s 24-hour access to clinics.
According to a statement issued by the department, 24 cases have been recorded by the province’s public health centres since April 2017.
“The department is calling on all community members to work together with the security committees to end crime at public health facilities. Criminals have been targeting security personnel and nursing staff to rob them. Victims have lost their cars, money, cellphones and some security guards have been robbed of their service pistols,” the department said.
Limpopo Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba announced in her recent 2017/18 budget speech that clinics in the province should operate 24-hours either on a shift or on-call system.
Department spokesperson Neil Shikwambane said the department was doing everything possible to ensure that clinics operate 24 hours.
“We are working very hard on the processes, and where we are not succeeding there should be staff on call. But our biggest challenge is criminal elements targeting those nurses and security members on duty. Some nurses are afraid to work and you can’t force them to when you cannot guarantee their safety,” said Shikwambane.
A nursing sister at Morapalala Clinic in Bolobedu near Tzaneen was robbed of her vehicle, a computer, while a security guard was mugged and his work pistol taken in a similar incident. Four clinics were robbed by two men in Vhembe district on the same night in December.
The department says stakeholders such as civic organisations, community policing forums, traditional leaders and other key role players need to join together to ensure that health facilities are safe and crime-free spaces for the community.