Marching medics take to the streets
Doctors in protest to highlight crime at their practices
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.”
PLEA FOR PEACE: Some of the Port Elizabeth doctors who are fed up with being the target of criminals