KZN emergency services, panicked mother share experience of navigating through violent protests

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Emergency services in KwaZulu-Natal have not been spared from the violent protests. They’re battling road closures, looting mobs, gunfire, and now a petrol shortage. Emer-G-Med paramedic spokesperson, Kyle van Reneen, says it’s been grueling.

“I personally have worked 96 hours straight my crews some of my staff have not been able to come to work because it is just clearly impossible. We have been under attack. We were transporting a 10-year-old patient who was in a critical condition from a private hospital in Rivers Horse Valley through to Mahatma Ghandhi Hospital in Phoenix while traveling on the R102 towards the White House area. We came under fire from suspects with AK47 and assault rifles, the suspects also tried to stone our vehicles luckily we didn’t sustain any injuries and our fleet was not damaged,” adds Van Reneen.

The South African National Bood Service on the other hand says they are working on reopening some of their donor centres.

They were closed amid the riots.

“Mostly severely affected was some of our donor’s centres in KwaZulu-Natal as a result of this and because of significant concern for the safety of our staff and our donors stopped all blood collection in KwaZulu-Natal for the previous 48-hours. We are slowly moving up into opening up some of the centres while we are assessing the situation very carefully,” explains SANBS Medical Director Dr Karin Van Den Berg.


With the closure of most pharmacies, a KwaZulu-Natal mother from the south coast, shares her panic after being forced to travel 50 kilometers to find one for her 10-year-old child’s chronic medicine.

“I was optimistic that things will subside and I’ll get the script before Tuesday… by Sunday it was evident to me that this chaos is not subsiding I had to drive 50 kilometres go collect the script from the specialist… I was stopped by an illegal roadblock nothing less than 20 men with guns as long as their legs, stopping me and asking where I’m going. I now had to explain myself to a stranger that I am trying to get to a hospital because all the pharmacies are closed and I need access to medication for my daughter.

I had to prove myself to another South African who is not a law enforcement that I should be allowed to drive on a road in this country. I had to show them the script I did not know whether they understand what schedule six medication looks like but I had to show them the script and in return. They told me I may not go through and I need to go around… It was not the most convenient thing to do to use extra petrol that I should be saving for necessary emergency situations but these people decided I don’t deserve to save my petrol for my life and my kids I should go around a longer route to go to the hospital.”

Psychiatric hospital looted 

The KwaZulu-Natal Health Department says that a psychiatric hospital Ekuhlengeni near KwaMakhutha south of Durban was also attacked.

Treating over 500 patients, it was robbed of 18 computers and some fridges.

Provincial Health Mec Nomagugu Simelane has slammed this as a well-planned attack.