Attacks on doctors force state to review hospital security

The state is reviewing the security systems in place at public hospitals as fears grow that attacks on doctors such as the recent ones in Limpopo might spread throughout the country.

The role of private security guards manning health facilities will be under the spotlight on Friday when Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi meets with security experts to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of security systems at state hospitals.

“The review will be for the whole country and we are using Limpopo as a springboard, and whatever plan we come up with will be applied throughout the country.

“We believe the attacks are in Limpopo but there is nothing stopping them (criminals) from spreading their activities to the rest of the country,” the minister added.

Motsoaledi said the three armed attacks, which occurred at separate healthcare facilities in Limpopo in the past five days, had startled his ministry. In the most recent attack, at a clinic in Manganeng village near Jane Furse, four men pretended to be accompanying a patient before they disarmed and robbed a female security guard. Police, who had been deployed near the clinic, gave chase.

The thugs abandoned their vehicle and started shooting at the police.

One suspect was shot and killed, while the other three managed to get away. One of them was arrested later when he tried to open a false case of hijacking, said provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Matlafela Mojapelo.

“The owner of the metered taxi that he had been using was put under pressure, wanting his vehicle back from the suspect. On interrogating him, police found out he was involved in the crime at the clinic and had been the driver of the getaway vehicle,” said Mojapelo.

Motsoaledi said a multi-disciplined task team, comprising police intelligence agents, detectives services, the riot squad, private security authorities and Department of Home Affairs officials, had been set up and would reconvene on Friday with Motsoaledi to review the security systems being used at public healthcare facilities.

This would include looking at the number of guards deployed per shift and the methods of searching vehicles and people entering the facilities.