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Cape Town - In the first quarter of the financial year from April 1 to June 30 there were 634 security incidents reported at Western Cape health facilities.

There were around 382 incidents of threatening behaviour towards staff, 60 incidents of theft/burglary, 54 incidents of damage to property and 52 incidents of physical assault.

Safety and security have been a hot topic since the abduction and rape of a nursing student at Tygerberg Hospital. Since then several people have taken to social media to share their safety fears when at the various facilities. In the previous financial year, the Western Cape Health Department spent R273million on safety and security.

“A health facility is a place of healing where people go for healthcare and should not be used as a place where crime is committed. Safety and security of patients and staff is a key focus area for the Western Cape government’s health sector. This is R273m which could have been invested into additional and much-needed healthcare services to the communities across the province,” said the Western Cape Health Department’s deputy director for communications Mark van der Heever.

He said the department had set aside an additional R33m towards safety and security. 

“Besides extra security guards, the additional funding will also be used for technology such as installation of CCTV and alarm systems at certain facilities,” said Van der Heever.

Weekend Argus is aware of security changes made at Tygerberg Hospital. This after several people posted about the security at the hospital.

Portia Amos said: “The security outside Tygerberg Hospital is disgraceful. Parking lots are not secure at all. Students often have to walk alone through those areas to their cars with no security whatsoever. It’s an issue that should be addressed immediately!”

Judy De Vries Wallace commented that nurses work 7am to 7pm shifts. “Many only getting home at 9pm after taking a taxi or bus or walking across a field at night. We need safe transport, please!”

Braam Laubscher agreed: “Yes most nurses’ shifts end at 7pm but get out at 7.30pm. The state must make a plan.”

Staff at the hospital were reminded of a service offered to be escorted to their car by security should they be working late. They were given designated parking areas and additional security personnel will be at the hospital. They were also advised that certain models of cars are a target and to take extra precaution to ensure their vehicle is properly locked, insured and fitted with anti-theft systems.

Staff were reminded and students were cautioned to be aware of their safety at all times and to avoid security risk behaviours such as walking alone to parking areas at night, visibly displaying cellphones and wearing headphones in public. Additional security control has been introduced.

Previously, a staff member from one of the facilities said cars had been broken into and equipment stolen from vehicles. With two instances where doctors have been robbed because they had to walk quite far to their cars.

“Being inside the hospital is still a bit risky because there is no control of who is entering the hospital. The wards are safe because of a tagging system but the passages and hallways, there is no control of who is there.”

Most government hospitals are fairly big in the province and, he believes, it would be very difficult for security to walk through every parking space around the hospital.

Weekend Argus