Bandits impersonating patients rob staff at Cape Town health facility

Security guards at Gugulethu Community Health Centre were held up by gun-wielding robbers. File Picture: Cindy Waxa

Security guards at Gugulethu Community Health Centre were held up by gun-wielding robbers. File Picture: Cindy Waxa

Published Jun 13, 2023


Cape Town - The Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness has condemned the robbery of staff at one of its facilities in the Western Cape.

According to the department’s spokesperson, Monique Johnstone, the incident occurred during the early hours of Tuesday at Gugulethu Community Health Centre.

Two people, one in a wheelchair and the other pushing him gained access to the facility on the premise of seeking healthcare.

As security guards opened the gates, the suspects held them at gun point.

Two more suspects entered the premises.

The four suspects robbed the security guards and left.

“Soon afterwards they left and thankfully did not reach the trauma unit where the staff and patients were. No one was hurt physically. However, the trauma such actions leave on the victims is long-lasting. Everyone at the facility has been offered counselling and will continue to be supported in their emotional recovery,” Johnstone said.

She said this crime had been condemned in the strongest terms.

“We condemn any form of crime, even more so when criminals prowl on sick and frail. A health facility is a place of healing where those in need of medical care go. This should not, in any society, be seen as an easy target for criminals.

“This attack was clearly a pre-planned attack on vulnerable parts of the community. They are a danger to society and should be prosecuted by the justice system,” she said.

The department said it had handed over its CCTV footage to police and hoped this would lead to the speedy arrest of the suspects.

The department further stated it invested heavily in security annually to enable safe access and dignified health services.

“I condemn this incident in the strongest terms possible. Our health facilities are essential assets to our communities where residents can seek proper healthcare in a safe environment.

“These actions not only undermine our facilities’ ability to function, but also place our staff and patients’ lives in danger. I hope that the SAPS prioritises this case and ensures that the perpetrators face the full consequences of the law,” MEC of Health and Wellness, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo said.

The department has urged communities to raise the alarm if they become aware of threats to their health service.

“We all have the right to health services, and we need to work together in protecting this service that is there for you. These incidents have far-reaching implications as it means that traumatised staff are unable to go back to work before they are fully recovered emotionally, which in turn means there might be fewer healthcare workers who can attend to the sick.

“Should you become aware of any possible criminal threat to your health service, please inform the local SAPS or the facility manager immediately. The health service is there for you, let us work together in protecting it for everyone,” Johnstone said.