Two paramedics responding to an emergency call in Mamelodi were kidnapped at gunpoint, taken to a shack in the bushes, and then tied up and robbed.
The Gauteng health department condemned “the continued targeting of healthcare workers when discharging their duties by criminals who rob them of their belongings”.
According to Gauteng’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) spokesperson, Tshepo Shawa, the paramedics were hijacked, kidnapped, assaulted and robbed of their personal cellphones and other working tools on Saturday.
At the time of the attack, the two – a man and a woman -were responding to a distress call from Nellmapius, near Mamelodi, of a 48-year-old who had collapsed.
“An ambulance was dispatched to the area from the Mamelodi base and, on arrival in the vicinity of the address, two men waved to stop the crew. When the emergency responders stopped, the men pulled out firearms and forced them to drive to an unknown location.”
He added that the paramedics were taken to a shack in the bushes, where they were tied up, while the assailants drove away with the ambulance. The paramedics managed to escape to the nearby Mavuso squatter camp, and called for help.
Shawa said the crew had managed to activate the panic button before their attackers took the ambulance.
AMBULANCE HIJACKING AND ROBBERY OF PERSONNEL IN NELLMAPIUS EAST OF PRETORIA CONDEMNED
The Gauteng Department of Health (GDoH) condemns in the strongest terms the continued targeting of healthcare workers when discharging their duties in communities by… pic.twitter.com/npZRM4X7KQ
— Yusuf Abramjee (@Abramjee) July 23, 2023
He said all Gauteng EMS operational vehicles, including ambulances, were fitted with camera technology and tracking devices. This enabled the armed response company to be on the scene within a few minutes.
The ambulance was recovered a few minutes later in the same Nellmapius area, he said.
“The crew sustained minor scrapes and bruises, and have suffered emotional trauma. Trauma counselling has been arranged accordingly.
“The occupants of the address used to log the call, later on reported that they never called for an ambulance,” said Shawa.
WATCH: GDoH Head of Communication, @SamuelModiba speaks on the incident where @GautengEMS crew was hijacked, kidnapped, assaulted and robbed of their personal cell phones and other working tools while responding to what appeared to be a distress call from Nellmapius near Mamelodi pic.twitter.com/2m4AjDCmi8
— Gauteng Health (@GautengHealth) July 23, 2023
According to Shawa, the Nellmapius incident followed one that happened two weeks ago when two healthcare workers were robbed of their belongings in Ekangala. Police are investigating the case, he said.
He appealed to communities to work with law enforcement agencies to report any information that might assist in bringing perpetrators to book.
“It is hoped that various measures, such as the installation of tracking and surveillance devices on EMS vehicles, will assist in curbing these disturbing incidents,” said Shawa.
“The Gauteng provincial government is also rolling out phase one of the Gauteng panic button, which is being given to healthcare workers and others who work in vulnerable sectors. This will allow for quicker emergency responses in cases of emergencies.”