Paramedics and a patient were hijacked and robbed early on Tuesday, and two ambulances they were travelling in were torched near Eshowe. It has been alleged that the incidents were linked to the ongoing paramedic strike.
The paramedics, two men and two women, and a 1-year-old patient, escaped.
Police spokesman Thulani Zwane said the ambulances were burnt in two separate incidents.
He said an ambulance was dispatched at 1.58am to Matshamhlophe to attend to a maternity case. At 2.08am, the paramedics contacted the Emergency Medical Services call centre, with another person’s cellphone, to report that they had been stopped en route by two armed men.
“They fired shots at the tyres of the ambulance, and the paramedics got out and ran for safety. While hiding in the bushes, they saw the men setting the ambulance alight.”
Zwane said when the men left, the paramedics called the Mbongolwane Hospital for help.
In the other incident, the ambulance was called at 1.06am to the Vuma area to attend to a 1-year-old baby who was having fits. “On the way back, their ambulance was also confronted by armed men and both the paramedics and the patient managed to get to safety while the men set the ambulance alight.”
Zwane said police officers patrolling the area came to their rescue.
KZN health spokesman Desmond Motha said the department warned paramedics that if the incidents had something to do with the threatened illegal strike action, drastic action would be taken.
By Sphelele Ngubane