Residents attack EMS staff

Paramedics fear coming into red zone areas resulting in further lives being lost.

Wallacedene residents attacked a pathologist and an assistant who refused to remove a body from a dam.

According to Emergency Medical Services (EMS) spokeswoman Deanna Bessick, the two were near the Mhonqo squatter camp in Phase 9 last Friday, where the body of a 25-year-old man was lying face down in the polluted water.

“In such cases, police divers are responsible for retrieving the body because they are trained to do so,” she said.

But residents became angry and started throwing rocks and stones at the pathologist and the assistant and some men assaulted them.

Police at the scene managed to control the crowd.

The pathologist and the assistant escaped with minor injuries and were getting counselling, said Ms Bessick.

Kraaifontein police spokesman Captain Hein Hendricks said the pathologist and assistant had arrived at the scene after 1pm, more than four hours after residents had found the body.

“When they indicated that they are not trained to remove bodies from water, therefore they will not remove the body of the deceased, residents became upset and started protesting by throwing stones,” he said.

It is unclear what happened to the 25-year-old man, but Captain Hendricks said residents had removed the body from the water themselves and handed it to the pathologist.

“No injuries were reported and no arrests have been made. We are awaiting post mortem results,” he said.

Ward 6 Councillor Simphiwe Nonkeyizana said he was embarrassed about what happened.

“Firstly, this water is contaminated because residents are throwing unwanted materials in there and they use it as a public toilet and secondly the forensic pathologists were only trying to help these people while following proper procedures.”

He said he had asked community activists to point out the culprits because “it’s not the first time that officials have been attacked” and “his hard work has gone to waste” in trying to educate residents about the importance of protecting emergency service personnel.

Residents had attacked firefighters in August last year, claiming they had taken too long to respond to a fire.

“I condemn all attacks on officials,” he said.