News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Tuesday March 19th 2019

Paramedic safety initiative off to a troublesome start


An initiative to have members of neighbourhood watches in Khayelitsha accompany paramedics to call-outs to ensure their safety appeared to have been in shambles on its inaugural weekend.

Following attacks on paramedics attending emergencies in Khayelitsha, the initiative was launched at the Khayelitsha District Hospital on Tuesday last week by Health MEC Theuns Botha and Community Safety MEC Dan Plato.

At the launch Community Policing Forum chairperson in Harare, Bongiwe Malewa, said the initiative would start on Friday August 24 and the participating neighbourhood watch members would have two-way radios, torches and other equipment, and neighbourhood watch members would receive training.

However, the participating neighbourhood watch members interviewed yesterday said none of these promises were met.

“On Friday night we went to Khayelitsha District Hospital to start the job, only to find out there was no register, no resources, nothing was prepared for us. We decided to go back home,” said neighbourhood watch member Thanduxolo Shenxane.

Shenxane said he and his colleagues would like to assist in keeping paramedics safe but they needed training.

He said Plato and Botha should also talk to them about what was expected and allow them to ask questions.

Shenxane said they still waiting for Malewa to tell them when their training would start.

At the launch last week paramedics in attendance said they had no idea about the initiative and were doubtful about its possible efficacy.

Yesterday some paramedics remained unconvinced about having neighbourhood watch members accompany them on their call-outs.

Paramedic shop steward Sithembiso Philiso said the initative could put them at greater danger as criminals might target the equipment carried by the neighbourhood watch members who would not be carrying firearms.

We still need to sit down and get a better understanding of how this is going to work,” said Philiso.

“We have questions that we would like to ask the ministers because we were supposed to be informed about this and get our side heard before it’s launched.”

Malewa said the neighbourhood watch members had expressed their unhappiness at the lak of details regarding the initiative.

“They wanted details on how are they going to work, the code of conduct. They demanded something written down.”

MEC Plato’s spokesperson, Greg Wagner, said the initiative would now start this coming Friday.

”The neighbourhood watch will get the equipment and additional training will start next week,” said Wagner.

MEC Botha’s spokesperson, Hélène Rossouw, said the reason some paramedics were not aware of the initiative was because the day it was announced was the first day it was launched.

“Neighbourhood watch and paramedics had a meeting last week Friday. They will have another planning meeting next week Tuesday. This is a pilot project meaning more work has to be done,” she said. – Nombulelo  Damba

Tags: Bongiwe Malewa, Dan Plato, Greg Wagner, Helene Rossouw, Khayelitsha, Khayelitsha District Hospital, paramedics, Sithembiso Philiso, Thanduxolo Shenxane, Theuns Botha

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