The spate of robberies and burglaries at clinics and health facilities in areas such as Khayelitsha, Philippi and Crossroads have raised serious concerns about the safety of staff and patients.
Mayoral committee member for community services and health, Zahid Badroodien, said the violence levelled against City of Cape Town’s Health staff and the ongoing threat of bodily harm, and trauma inflicted on both those on the frontline and their patients had reached untenable levels.
He said last week armed robbers stormed the Crossroads 1 clinic, where 15 staff members and two security guards were on duty. The gunmen gained entry into the facility via the turnstile gate entrance and forced their way into the clinic.
A clerk who had tried to keep a door closed was slapped as the robbers debated whether to shoot him or not.
They robbed patients and staff, before pistol-whipping the facility manager and taking her phone, laptop, dongle, jewellery and the clinic keys.
At the time, he said, the district driver had been doing his deliveries and he too had been robbed of his personal vehicle, keys, wedding band, home keys, car key tags and a bag with personal belongings.
The vehicle was also taken, but retrieved later by Law Enforcement officers.
“It is unconscionable to think that the very staff who are on the front line, who put their health at risk to help others, have their lives and safety threatened while busy with their duties,“ said Dr Badroodien.
“In Samora Machel, the Weltevreden Valley Clinic is still closed after staff were robbed at gunpoint more than a month ago, while the Mzamomhle clinic in Brown’s Farm is under threat as patients have been robbed at gunpoint outside the facility on numerous occasions.
“The Khayelitsha Environmental Health Office in Harare is temporarily closed after burglars made off with computers, a microwave, two televisions and a laptop. The office will not be able to render any direct public interface services for a considerable time due to the current situation,” he said.
Nyanga community policing forum secretary, Dumisani Qwebe, said it was distressing that clinics and health facilities seemed to be under attack from criminals.
He said the spate attacks on them clearly shows that patients and staff at these facilities are not safe. He called on the health forums in the area to sit down with the leaders so that they could draft a way forward.
Yanga Mjingwana, chairperson of Sector 1 of Harare police station’s precinct, said two weeks ago criminals broke into Michael Mapongwana clinic in Harare and stole computers and other valuable equipment.
More shocking, he said, was that criminals were brazen enough to break into a clinic which is situated right next to Harare police station.