Call for SANDF to escort medics in red zones
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.