March­ing medics take to the streets

Doc­tors in protest to highlight crime at their prac­tices

The Herald (South Africa) - - NEWS - Gareth Wil­son wilsong@ti­soblack­star.co.za

ABOUT 100 Nel­son Man­dela Bay doc­tors and their staff took to the streets of Mother­well in a mo­tor­cade yes­ter­day morn­ing as part of a cam­paign aimed at high­light­ing in­creas­ing crime at their prac­tices.

The protest comes four weeks af­ter a group of doc­tors, who prac­tice in town­ship ar­eas, went pub­lic, stat­ing they were be­ing tar­geted by crim­i­nal gangs.

The mo­tor­cade left at 10am from Daku Road, driv­ing to the Mother­well Po­lice Sta­tion in Tynira Street.

The plea for help to clamp down on crim­i­nals tar­get­ing doc­tors’ prac­tices fol­lows a se­ries of meet­ings with po­lice top brass and mu­nic­i­pal polic­ing heads.

KwaDwesi-based Dr Mthem­beni Te­belele, speak­ing on be­half of a group of 35 doc­tors call­ing them­selves the Ib­hayi Gen­eral Prac­ti­tion­ers, said the crime wave also af­fected their pa­tients who lived and worked in the area.

Te­belele, on be­half of the group, handed a mem­o­ran­dum to Mother­well sta­tion com­man­der Brigadier Ernie Nevel­ing ask­ing for swift ac­tion against thugs.

Ac­cord­ing to the doc­tors, about nine prac­tices in Mother­well, Zwide, KwaDwesi, Kwaza­khele and Al­goa Park had been robbed or bur­gled in just two months – by what they be­lieved was the same gang.

Some of the points in the mem­o­ran­dum in­clude more po­lice vis­i­bil­ity around their prac­tices, quicker fol­low-up con­sul­ta­tions from de­tec­tives in­ves­ti­gat­ing the cases, as well as in­ter­ven­tion from the po­lice min­istry in al­lo­cat­ing more re­sources to the po­lice sta­tion.

Te­belele said about 50 doc­tors from the town­ships, Ib­hayi ar­eas and across Port El­iz­a­beth had joined their cause in sup­port.

“At the end of the day, all we want is a safe work­ing en­vi­ron­ment for us and our pa­tients,” he said. “We feel that we have got­ten through to the po­lice [to­day].”

Te­belele said po­lice had raised con­cerns about the fact that they had shut their prac­tices to take part in the protest. “We did not want to close, but we felt that this was a sit­u­a­tion that war­ranted dras­tic ac­tion,” he said.

“We seem to have made our case and the po­lice told us how they have pri­ori­tised at­tacks on us and our prac­tices.

“They are busy work­ing on a plan to as­sist with our se­cu­rity.”

Te­belele said the Eastern Cape health care pro­fes­sion­als’ as­so­ci­a­tion had also sup­ported the protest.

Po­lice spokesman Cap­tain An­dre Beetge said a meet­ing with the doc­tors this month had re­sulted in all the cases be­ing con­sol­i­dated.

“We have a team of de­tec­tives in place to work on all these cases tar­geted at doc­tors.

“The team is look­ing for sim­i­lar­i­ties between all the rob­beries and bur­glar­ies to de­ter­mine if it is one group or per­haps sev­eral groups,” he said.

Beetge said in­former net­works had also been ac­ti­vated to gather in­for­ma­tion.

“We are call­ing on the com­mu­nity to sup­ply us with in­for­ma­tion and help us in iden­ti­fy­ing the cul­prits,” he said.

“As a tem­po­rary mea­sure, we have also in­creased pa­trols around all the doc­tors’ prac­tices.”

Pic­ture: EU­GENE COETZEE

PLEA FOR PEACE: Some of the Port El­iz­a­beth doc­tors who are fed up with be­ing the tar­get of crim­i­nals

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