News / South Africa

Alex Japho Matlala
3 minute read
23 Nov 2018
6:25 am

Calls for better security after Limpopo doctors shot by robbers

Alex Japho Matlala

DA Limpopo provincial chairperson Jacques Smalle said the Letaba shooting incident followed a robbery last week at Sekgopo Clinic.

Three doctors were shot and seriously wounded while asleep in their residence at Letaba Hospital in Limpopo early yesterday morning.

One doctor, whose one-month-old baby was in the same room, was shot in the thigh. He and two of his colleagues are fighting for their lives in the intensive care unit of the hospital.

One of the doctors who survived the shooting, Musiiwa Muthapule, said he was woken up by a bang next door at about 3.30am. He heard screams for help.

“I was petrified after several gunshots were fired from the room. I hid under the table and prayed, thinking I was next,” said Muthapule, who was still shaking during the interview.

He tried to call the police and the security guards, to no avail. His terror increased when the thugs looked into his house through the window.

“From the shadow on the window, I could see that these ruthless thugs were armed with huge rifles and pangas.”

The police arrived shortly afterwards but by that time, the men had already vanished.

Nurses who were at the scene described the hospital as a playground for criminals.

The nurses, who asked to remain anonymous for their own safety, claimed several nurses had been raped and others attacked at their residences in recent weeks.

“When we report the cases to the hospital management, they give us the runaround and send us from pillar to post. But now that an incident took place at the doctors’ residence, the whole province has descended, including the MEC.

“This shows beyond any shadow of doubt that in this hospital some people’s lives are more important than others,” said one nurse.

Limpopo health MEC Phophi Ramathuba said the constant attacks on doctors in Limpopo were negatively affecting the recruitment of doctors to work in rural hospitals. He said there was a chronic shortage of doctors in the province.

The Democratic Alliance said yesterday said the incident highlighted the need for better security at the province’s vulnerable health facilities.

DA Limpopo provincial chairperson Jacques Smalle said the Letaba incident followed a robbery last week at Sekgopo Clinic.

“The department’s solution to the robbery at Sekgopo was to reduce the clinic’s operating hours from 24 hours to closing at 4pm. It is clear from this action that the department is only interested in addressing the symptoms and not the actual disease,” he said.

“The DA calls on the department to increase security at health facilities, especially rural clinics and hospitals, and to collaborate with [the SA Police Service] to ensure they are regularly present at health facilities at night.”

Limpopo police spokesperson Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe said a huge manhunt had been launched for five armed suspects who had stolen an undisclosed amount of cash and TV sets, laptops, cellphones and tablets.

The Treatment Action Campaign called for maximum security in health facilities.

“We call upon the MEC of health in Limpopo to ensure the security service providers in public healthcare institutions are capable of delivering maximum protection to employees and patients at all health facilities,” TAC said.


  • The armed robbery at the Letaba Hospital doctors’ residence may jeopardise 24-hour healthcare in the province.
  • “The healthcare system in Limpopo is under attack and crime intelligence needs to be placed in all health institutions,” according to Limpopo health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba, who went to the hospital shortly after the shooting.
  • “It is very clear that not only doctors, but all our healthcare professionals are worried now.
  • “Our clinics cannot be open for 24 hours any more.
  • “The doctors are saying ‘enough is enough’ and threatening to stop providing services from 4.30pm, because they don’t want to stay in an environment where they are not protected,” she said.
  • Ramathuba said steps would be taken to increase security measures at the health facilities in the province.
  • The Limpopo health department was discussing this with the State Security Agency.
  • The issue is now at the level of the minister of health and police. – ANA

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.