Kasi clinics under siege

Armed robberies and burglaries at government health facilities has workers on edge.

At about 9am on Monday May 13, two men armed with guns held up staff in the part of Gugulethu clinic where Sonke Gender Justice is based, taking their belongings, a laptop and two cellphones.

The armed men ordered staff to be quiet. The City of Cape Town’s Mayoral committee member for community services and health, Zahid Badroodien condemned the incidents and called on people with information to report it to the police.

“The City condemns this incident in the strongest terms and requests anyone with information to report it to the closest SAPS. Trauma debriefing sessions have been organised for affected staff and extra security personnel have been deployed to the facility,” he said. Now residents are concerned about losing the workers due to robberies in their facilities.

Nosipho Phithi said there had been a spate of break-ins at facilities in the area. “We might lose doctors and nurses because of fear for their lives. This needs us as residents to say enough is enough. We ought to stand up and fight crime in our areas,” she said.

The security staff did not witness the incident. When asked by Vukani about it, the guard on duty said it was difficult to identify people who were coming to the clinic to commit crimes as the facility was often full, with people coming and going all the time.

“It is a mission to notice a robber here. It is always full in the morning here. These I assume are people that have been observing the situation here,” she told Vukani.

Chairman of the community policing forum Sonwabile Magida suggested that the facility, the City, community members and police have a meeting to map out the way forward. He said there must be a plan to protect not only the building but the staff at the government facilities. “It is sad to hear that our facilities are robbed in broad daylight. These are facilities that are off help to us. There should be a way to protect our staff,” he said.

Gugulethu police, who confirmed the incident, are investigating.

A trusted source told Vukani that, in another incident, which was not reported to police, a gunman came to KTC Community Health Centre looking for a nurse he once had a run-in with. The man, allegedly, a former security guard at the facility was, however, stopped in his tracks.

The latest crime has prompted a call for increased security – and for certain staff to resign.

Our source inside the CHC said the crime highlighted inadequate security at all the facilities. “Remember last year we lost Andile Magama, a porter at the clinic, who was stabbed to death while waiting for a taxi outside the clinic gate. We cannot live like this. If there is no proper security, some of us will be forced to leave township facilities.”