Alleged extortion of paramedics being investigated
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Cape Town - Following the mass shooting that killed 13 people in Khayelitsha last week, extortionists are allegedly now threatening to attack paramedics who are servicing the community.
Deanna Bessick, communications officer for EMS and the forensic pathology service in the province, said that they are investigating the claims of extortion syndicates targeting paramedics.
According to Bessick, there have been 27 attacks during 2021 on Western Cape Government Health's Emergency Medical Services officials.
“The safety of our paramedics is a high priority for the Western Cape Government. Paramedics have among the highest risk for workplace violence because they work in communities where crime is rife. Paramedics are being assaulted while carrying out a crucial service, specifically in areas where they are needed most,” said Bessick.
Bessick said these attacks on EMS staff led to absenteeism and an increase in work-related illnesses, all of which contribute to less resources available to respond to emergencies.
“Therefore, it is concerning that they may have fears when having to attend to patients in communities.
“EMS paramedics perform an essential service and we thank them for their contributions, especially during the pandemic. We must work together with communities to create a safe and supportive environment for EMS workers to provide, and members of communities to receive, emergency medical services as needed,” she said.
“The attacks have been increasing drastically and affect the most vulnerable in communities where the EMS is most required. Since the national lockdown was instated, we saw an increase in attacks. The impact is that service delivery to vulnerable communities is affected,” said Bessick.
Khayelitsha Development Forum chairperson Ndithini Tyhido said that, together with the committee members of the forum, they oppose the attacks.
“We are very much unapologetic, very blunt about our attitude towards the claims. We condemn it, we detest, we hate it, we hate the fact that they will even make their intentions known. We call on all community members to stand up and defend emergency medical care personnel,” said Tyhido.