Avatar photo

By Nicholas Zaal

Digital Journalist

Man who kidnapped and assaulted paramedics gets 15 years

Two paramedics were called out to what seemed to be an emergency. But on arrival, two men pulled out guns, and robbed and kidnapped them.

A 25-year-old man has been sentenced to 15 years direct imprisonment for kidnapping and assaulting a crew of paramedics in Pretoria last year.

Gauteng MEC for Health and Wellness, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko welcomed the conviction and sentencing handed down by the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court to Matome Tumi Sepesu on Wednesday.

ALSO READ: Hijacked and shot at hospital gate: Health Dept calls for increased security at Rahima Moosa

The Gauteng Emergency Medical Services (EMS) crew was hijacked, kidnapped, assaulted and robbed of their personal cell phones and other working tools while responding to what appeared to be a distress call in the Nellmapius area, east of Pretoria last July.

False call

At the time, the department’s spokesperson Motalatale Modiba said an emergency call was registered for a 48-year-old male who collapsed due to an unknown condition.

Two men waved to stop the crew in the vicinity of the address, but when they stopped the men pulled out firearms and forced them to drive to an unknown location.

“The occupants of the address used to log the call, later on, reported that they never called for an ambulance. Both crew members [male and female] were taken to a shack between bushes where they were tied up while the assailants drove away with the ambulance,” Modiba said.

The crew, who activated the panic button before the assailants took the ambulance, managed to escape to the nearby Mavuso squatter camp where they called for help.

ALSO READ: Firefighters attacked in Eldorado Park, services to be affected

Out of four suspects involved in the incident, Sepesu was successfully convicted and sentenced to a 15 years’ imprisonment. The other three suspects are still on the run and a police investigation is still underway.

“This conviction sends a strong message to criminals who are targeting healthcare workers when they are discharging their duties trying to save lives of communities,” MEC Nkomo-Ralehoko said.

“Our teams have been subjected to senseless attacks in some of the communities which have made it rather difficult for them when they have to respond to emergencies.”

More attacks this week

Meanwhile, the Gauteng EMS suffered two other attacks this week.

Two suspects robbed paramedics and fled with a push-to-talk radio used for dispatching calls, in Rieger Park, Ekurhuleni, at about 10pm on Wednesday.

The incident happened while the crew was responding to a medical call and treating a patient at the back of the ambulance.

The second incident happened at Eersterust in Mamelodi, at about 1.30am on Thursday morning.

The crew was also busy treating a patient when a suspect stole a cell phone belonging to one of the paramedics.

Fortunately, the suspect was apprehended by the police through the assistance of the community and community policing forum. The phone was also recovered.

The suspect appeared at the Hatfield Branch Court in Pretoria on Friday and was released on bail with the next appearance set for 2 May at the same court.

The department pleaded with communities to play an active role in the protection of healthcare workers and to work with law enforcement agencies to help stop attacks on these workers.

ALSO READ: Protect paramedics to allow them to attend to emergencies, pleads MEC