Call for SANDF to es­cort medics in red zones

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - ASANDA SOKANYILE

A NEW safety plan for the city’s emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vices has been de­vised in the wake of an am­bu­lance car­ry­ing a crit­i­cally in­jured child be­ing am­bushed ear­lier this week.

The child, Faigon Wild­schut, 7, died af­ter the am­bu­lance he was in­side was forced to a halt and the crew robbed at gun­point on the N2 on Wed­nes­day.

The in­ter­min­is­te­rial plan which in­cludes a re­quest for SANDF es­corts for am­bu­lance staff in “red zones” was an­nounced by Health MEC No­mafrench Mbombo, MEC of Safety and Se­cu­rity Dan Plato and the City of Cape Town’s Safety and Se­cu­rity may­oral com­mit­tee mem­ber JP Smith yes­ter­day.

Am­bu­lance crews are not al­lowed to en­ter high-risk zones with­out a po­lice es­cort. The zones in­clude Browns Farm Philippi, Tafel­sig, Bea­con Val­ley, Hy­den Park, Nyanga, Gugulethu, New Cross­roads, Ma­nen­berg, Hanover Park, Bon­te­heuwel, Langa North­ern, Kalk­steen­fontein, Elsies River, Chicago in Paarl, Site C Khayelit­sha and J-Sec­tion in Lin­gelethu.

Now the province wants the army to lend a hand.

“The cab­i­net took a de­ci­sion to call for the de­ploy­ment of the SANDF in terms of Sec­tion 19 of the De­fence Act to act as a force mul­ti­plier and as­sist the SAPS, who are clearly un­der im­mense pres­sure and poorly re­sourced where they are needed most,” Mbombo said.

She added sol­diers would not re­place po­lice but would be an “ad­di­tional re­source”.

Mbombo said Min­is­ter of Po­lice Fik­ile Mbalula had shown “com­mit­ment to this process and we hope the pres­i­dent will ex­pe­dite this de­ploy­ment. Greater co-or­di­na­tion be­tween the var­i­ous spheres of gov­ern­ment is re­quired to re­store con­fi­dence in our abil­ity to de­liver ser­vices un­in­ter­rupted”.

Na­tional po­lice spokesper­son Vuyo Mhaga con­firmed the re­quest and said it had been for­warded to the pres­i­dency for con­sid­er­a­tion.

Pres­i­dency spokesper­son Bon­gani Ngqu­lunga was not avail­able to com­ment.

Faigon would have turned 8 yes­ter­day. In­stead of en­joy­ing the planned birth­day cel­e­bra­tions of her only son, dev­as­tated mother Nicola Wild­schut was mak­ing funeral ar­range­ments.

The child and his par­ents were in­volved in a head-on col­li­sion on Lans­downe Road on their way to their Delft home from Ma­nen­berg.

They were rushed to the Delft Day hos­pi­tal with head in­juries. Faigon had to be trans­ported in a spe­cial am­bu­lance with suitable equip­ment as he needed a scan which was avail­able only at Red Cross War Memo­rial Chil­dren’s hos­pi­tal.

This am­bu­lance was at­tacked by three armed men af­ter it had driven over bricks strewn across Bor­chards Quarry.

Wild­schut told Week­end Ar­gus: “They didn’t even care that my son was in­jured in the van. I cried and screamed at them but they car­ried on. Though po­lice re­sponse was im­me­di­ate, the rob­bers had al­ready gone and the po­lice were too scared to go af­ter them. It was my boyfriend who tried chas­ing them but I just feel that the po­lice are not trained enough and are scared.”

Mbalula said: “I am in­struct­ing our po­lice to hunt down these lowlife crim­i­nals; our law en­force­ment agen­cies must make an ex­am­ple out of them.”

Smith said the SAPS had to “beef up” ser­vices in ar­eas such as along the N2 high­way.

asanda.sokanyile@inl.co.za

Faigon Wild­schut

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