Armoured Ambulances in Johannesburg’s Inner City

SAPA, Jan. 1, 2006

A woman dying of HIV/Aids in Yeoville cannot eat or drink, her medicine has run out and getting to hospital on New Year’s Eve is a struggle, as only armoured ambulances dare venture into Johannesburg’s inner city.

Rowdy revellers have been known to attack ambulances, throwing toilets and fridges at them.

A concerned Yeoville resident contacted the South African Press Association after phoning emergency services to collect the ill woman who lives in her building.

“She has been sick for a while, she cannot eat or drink and she cannot move. She needs hospital care,” said the woman, who prefered not to be named.

She said she had waited an hour after first phoning for an ambulance. She claims she then phoned again only to be told ambulances were not being sent into the inner city unless there was a car accident.

She was apparently told that wounded and sick patients should go to the Hillbrow police station.

Emergency services spokesperson Malcolm Midgley said they had to make use of armoured ambulances to do calls in Hillbrow and other inner city areas.

He said this had been the procedure for the past five years as New Year’s revellers often attack ambulances, throwing toilets and fridges at them.

“We have been instructed to get as many normal medical problems and those that are not too serious to the police station,” he said.

The armoured ambulances are ex-military ambulances.

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