Angry residents and clinic staff are fuming over as pate of burglaries which have forced the closure of the New Brighton Clinic for the past three weeks, with the latest break-in happening yesterday.
Upset that they were being denied their medication, a group of about 50 community members burnt tyres in front of the clinic yesterday, saying something had to be done to beef up security and prevent further break-ins.
When staff members reported for duty yesterday, the clinic had been broken into again through the roof.
The floor was flooded and a large part of the ceiling removed.
The clinic has 33 staff members and provides medical services for thousands of people.
Last week alone, the clinic was broken into twice – on Thursday and Friday – with the suspects also gaining access through the roof.
Staff members, who were sitting outside the clinic yesterday, said they feared for their lives.
Nomhle Mngazi, 63, said people were tired of the break-ins which had resulted in a number of people not getting their medication.
“They need to train security [staff] to carry guns because they can’t fight these people using their batons,” Mngazi said.
The clinic’s Public and Allied Workers of SA spokeswoman, Sister Winkie Mngqibisa, said it was easy for people to break into the clinic, especially since security staff were not properly armed.
“In [yesterday’s] break-in, they gained access through to the dispensary but could not get their hands on the medicine as there is a [protective] net [in the ceiling].They only managed to take the remaining copper [wire],” she said.
“We are affected by this a lot.We don’t feel safe. First it is copper wires, then it will be medicine. After that they will come for us and our cars. We cannot work in unsafe situations.”
“We have not been operating for three weeks as we are still waiting for the Department of Health to come and address us. We are not going to sacrifice our safety because of service delivery.”
Bay deputy mayor and public health portfolio head Mongameli Bobani said the break-ins were a major concern.
“This is a provincial matter and there is nothing we can do as Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. However, we have requested the province to urgently intervene,” he said.
Provincial health spokesman Siyanda Manana said the burglaries had impacted heavily on the community.
“We are looking at possibly creating a partnership with the community. The department will have meetings with them to discuss how do we protect the clinic, staff and patients,” he said