KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu has condemned violence against healthcare workers in the province after a male nurse died on Wednesday when he was shot three times during a hijacking in Ndwedwe, in the Ilembe District Municipality.
The provincial health department said the nurse was driving a state-issued vehicle with five coworkers to a training session in Durban.
"They were approached by a gunman who opened fire and forced them out of the vehicle before driving off. The professional nurse was shot three times and rushed to Appelsbosch Hospital [in Etsheni], where he sadly succumbed to his injuries," Simelane-Zulu said.
In another similar incident, also in the Ndwedwe area, another health worker was recently hijacked while returning from an outreach programme. The perpetrators held him at gunpoint before taking his belongings and driving away in his state vehicle.
"We are shocked and appalled by the alarming rate of the seemingly targeted hijacking of health service state vehicles and the killing of health workers. It is brutal and completely unacceptable.
"The first vehicle that was hijacked was a Toyota Etios and, during yesterday's incident, a seven-seater Suzuki Ertiga was taken. It is quite well-known what these types of vehicles are mainly used for," Simelane-Zulu said.
The MEC called on law enforcement agencies to act swiftly to uncover any syndicates that may be targeting state vehicles.
"We should never get to a stage where such reprehensible behaviour is regarded as the norm in our society because it has dire and far-reaching emotional and psychological consequences. Families are losing bread-winners and we cannot accept that," she said.
Simelane-Zulu also expressed concern that state-issued double-cab vehicles and ambulances seemed to be in high demand in various parts of the province.
"The hijacking of healthcare vehicles seriously cripples the manner in which we provide healthcare services to our communities and instils fear among our employees. We therefore call upon community members to report these syndicates.
"Surely, someone, somewhere knows something about who is hijacking these vehicles and where they are being sold. The time has come for our communities to say, enough is enough so that these criminals are removed from our society," she urged.
The MEC conveyed her condolences to the family of the victim and arranged for psychological counselling for the other healthcare workers who witnessed the gruesome incident.