Bay clinics under siege by criminals

GRAND OPENING:... Opening of Tshangana Primary Healthcare Clinic , in New Brighton. Pic: JUDY DE VEGA. 26/04/2012. © The Herald
Tshangana Primary Healthcare Clinic , in New Brighton. Pic: JUDY DE VEGA. 26/04/2012. The Herald

Metro asked to help beef up security at buildings

Clinics in Nelson Mandela Bay’s townships and northern areas are under siege from criminals, who vandalise buildings, steal equipment, and intimidate or attack staff.

The Eastern Cape Department of Health’s Bay district office has turned to the municipality for help, saying the city should explore ways to assist in beefing up security at the clinics.

Clinics are run by the provincial department, but in the municipality’s buildings.

Clinics that are considered security-risk hotspots and in desperate need of added protection are: New Brighton, Booysen Park, Rosedale, Gqebera, Missionvale, Tshangana, Soweto, Veeplaas, Helenvale, Gelvandale, Masakhane and Zwide.

In a report to the municipality’s public health committee, Bay health district manager Maureen Botha said clinics were experiencing a spate of burglaries, with computers and copper pipes mainly targeted.

In a new development, assailants were now also targeting schedule drugs and anti-retroviral medication, Botha wrote.

The committee discussed the report yesterday.

“The situation has put tremendous pressure on the resources of the Department of Health,” Botha reported.

“In many instances, these buildings have been extensively vandalised, with damaged roofs, ceilings, broken doors, stolen pipes and smashed windows.”

“Numerous [incidents] of intimidation and personal attacks on staff who work in our health facilities have been reported.”

“The general breakdown of law and order and family life in our various communities contribute immensely to the general feeling of insecurity at the workplace, which makes it very difficult for health professionals to provide a quality health service in a situation where their safety is compromised.”

Among the incidents are:

  • Veeplaas: A fight broke out between two women and one was stabbed;
  •  Soweto: Faeces was thrown at the clinic door when a nurse refused to issue a medical certificate;
  • New Brighton: There were five break-ins last month, with damage of more than R500 000;
  •  Helenvale and Gelvandale: Gang shootings occur nearby daily.
  •  Gqebera: A baby was stolen from the clinic last month; and
  •  West End maternity unit: A security guard was recently shot at the gate.

Botha said staff were left traumatised.

The clinics needed an additional 89 security guards, more panic buttons and new alarm systems.

Councillors felt security should also be beefed up at hospitals, due to robberies.

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