Ambulance service cut after violence

Emergencies will not be attended to after vehicles attacked

The Eastern Cape Department of Health has warned the public that ambulances will no longer attend to emergencies in large parts of Nelson Mandela Bay after a vehicle was petrol-bombed during violent protests in Motherwell on Tuesday. Extra manpower has been sent to the metro in an attempt to quell the protests near Motherwell that have left road surfaces damaged and vehicles gutted.

The protest has been going on since Tuesday morning, when residents blocked the Addo road in Motherwell and later moved to the N2, where cars were pelted with stones.

Two cases of damage to infrastructure and to roads, as well as five cases of malicious damage to property and seven of public violence were opened yesterday.

In two of the incidents, a truck and a bakkie were gutted when protesters threw petrol bombs at them while they were travelling on the N2 near Bluewater Bay.

Provincial health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said yesterday an ambulance had also been petrol-bombed in Gigana Street, Wells Estate, just before 11am on Tuesday.

“The crew sustained no injuries, but the ambulance was burnt on the bonnet and the windscreen was cracked,” he said.

“The frightened driver drove the vehicle into a ditch.”

Kupelo said their services to areas on the N2, Bluewater Bay, Wells Estate, Khamvelihle and the Addo Road were suspended with immediate effect.

He said a delay in response time should be expected for Motherwell as vehicles would have to drive via Swartkops.

“The safety of our personnel is our priority and we cannot risk more resources to possible attacks,” he said.

“Losing more ambulances will leave the Nelson Mandela Bay community without a service.”

Kupelo said enough was enough.

“We cannot force our way through a danger zone. By attacking emergency services residents have denied themselves the service. “The risk is too big for us now.” By late yesterday morning, the protests had come to a halt, with police monitoring the situation in case it flared up again.

Captain Andre Beetge said the actions by protesters were strongly condemned and that the N2 freeway, the main route in and out of Nelson Mandela Bay, had also been a target of the violence.

Beetge said an ambulance and two police vehicles had been among those damaged when angry protesters pelted stones at passing vehicles.

Motherwell cluster commander MajorGeneral Dawie Rabie said there was a difference between protesting and the throwing of stones and petrol bombs at moving vehicles.

These actions could lead to the injury or death of innocent motorists.

“We will review possible video evidence obtained and aim to identify the suspects and instigators involved in these public violence cases and bring these perpetrators to book.”

Eastern Cape top cop Lieutenant-General Liziwe Ntshinga said that unlawfulness would not be tolerated and therefore more resources had been deployed to contain public violence in the Bay.

“The police must protect the rights of all citizens and we will not tolerate protesters damaging property or injuring innocent parties. Protesters will be arrested and held accountable,” he said.

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