Crime closed down two big Port Elizabeth clinics yesterday when the New Brighton Clinic was flooded after thieves stole copper pipes and nurses went on strike at the Veeplaas Clinic, saying they feared for their safety after a stabbing.
In another incident, two security guards and a supervisor were beaten up by robbers who stole their cellphones at the Zwide Clinic last month.
Provincial health spokesman Siyanda Manana confirmed the three attacks.
Together, the three clinics serve more than 200 000 people.
In the first incident, two women attacked each other inside the Veeplaas Clinic last week, one taking out a knife and stabbing the other.
Democratic Nursing Organisation of South African acting provincial secretary Khaya Sodidi said organisation officials were called out late last week to engage with nurses after the incident.
Sodidi said the Veeplaas incident was the latest in a string of attacks at state hospitals and clinics.
“A while ago nurses were robbed while on night duty at Empilweni Hospital. There have been break-ins and antiretroviral drugs have been stolen.
“There has been a hijacking and a robbery near the hospital as well.
“There was also a robbery at Dora Nginza Hospital.”
Nurses at Veeplaas closed the clinic yesterday and refused to work further until their safety concerns were addressed.
Manana said officials had given notice to the nurses to return to work.
“Otherwise we will be taking disciplinary steps,” he said. The New Brighton Clinic was also closed yesterday after thieves stole 70m of copper pipes, with the facility being flooded as a result.
Manana said the thieves had also taken the clinic’s computer and hard- drive.
A part of the ceiling collapsed due to the flooding and the clinic was closed while nurses and other personnel had to try to do damage control yesterday, Manana said.
New Brighton Clinic operations manager Lester Coleman said it was suspected thieves had gained access through the roof above his office.
“They removed the tiles andmade their way inside my office. They took a computer but it was found in the roof , ” he said.
“They also stole 70m of copper pipe which has caused the water to flood on the floor.”
Nelson Mandela Bay deputy mayor Mongameli Bobani, who is also the political head of the public health directorate, condemned the lack of security at night.
“I will talk to mayor Athol Trollip about this so we can make a plan while we are still in talks with the provincial Department of Health.”
At the Zwide Clinic last month, two security guards and a supervisor were beaten up by robbers who took their cellphones.
According to statistics kept by the Eastern Cape Department of Health, there were more than 35 separate break-ins at clinics in the metro last year.
At the Zwide Clinic, there were weekly break-ins until a suspect was arrested.
Metro Emergency Medical Services head Brenhan Metune said there had been 36 attacks on ambulance personnel in the metro between 2014 and now.
Manana said operations at both Veeplaas and New Brighton clinics would hopefully return to normal today. – Additional reporting by Yoliswa Sobuwa