As the minibus taxi strike continues in the City of Cape Town, those receiving or requiring medical assistance continue to suffer.
In the last few days there have been reports of health services being disrupted by strikers which have the potential to have serious consequences for patients’ health and well-being.
Emergency services were a particularly big target, says Gerrit Pretorius, the DA’s spokesperson for health in the Western Cape.
“An ambulance, which was transporting patients, was set on fire on the first of the strikes. The staff were also assaulted,” says Pretorius.c
Taxi drivers in Cape Town have burned an ambulance with a patient inside. pic.twitter.com/yCnSMoNmI4
— Big Br⭕ther (@dzanibe_lindo) August 4, 2023
“Ambulances were also unable to enter certain areas without police escort due to the real and serious risk of similar attacks being carried out. Too often the police were unable to provide these escorts in time.”
Some clinics even had to close their doors due to the “peaceful” strike which took a violent turn on Friday.
“The Vanguard Hospital in Bonteheuwel was forced to close its doors on Thursday after strikers stormed into the facility.”
Key medical personnel were also kept away from their workplaces, forcing many clinics and hospitals to drastically scale back their services. “In many cases, our health facilities can only offer the most urgent treatments and procedures due to staff shortages.”
According to Pretorius, the level of violence used by protesters creates at the same time that hospitals are filling up with patients who have been injured as a result of the strikes.
“The provincial health system is being pushed to the brink, putting the health of each one of us at risk.
“There are no circumstances in which attacks on hospitals and patients can be condoned. What we have seen from those who have attacked our health facilities in recent days is a callous and inexcusable disregard for people’s lives.
“Anyone who wants to harm medical staff, patients, clinics, hospitals or ambulances must be dealt with to the full extent of the law, as should anyone who was complicit in organizing or encouraging these attacks. An adverse outcome for even a single patient in the Western Cape as a result of this strike cannot be accepted.”
RNews reported earlier that more than 287,000 learners could not go to school due to the strikes. More than 9,500 teachers and other school staff were also prevented from getting to school by numerous traffic jams and disruptions in the Mother City.
Furthermore, several services were disrupted due to the strike. Many transport services and motorists have also come under violent attacks.