By Augustine Ehikioya
Responding to a fake distress call, some medical personnel of the South Africa Emergency Medical Services were held hostage in Belfast, Mpumalanga Province on Sunday, 15th May, 2022.
Apart from holding the medical staff hostage, the suspects also stole the ambulance parts amounting to R300,000, including gear box, engine, two tyres and the car battery.
This was contained in a statement issued by Brigadier Selvy Mohlala of the South African Police Service, Office of the Provincial Commissioner Mpumalanga. It was made available to Security Watch Africa (SWA) on Monday.
It said “The shocking incident is said to have taken place in the evening of yesterday, Sunday 15 May, 2022 at Belfast.
“It is reported that on the said day, the Emergency Medical Services received a strange call about a woman who was in labour (giving birth) at a farm near Belfast on the Spitzkop Road road.
“An ambulance, a VW Crafter was then dispatched to attend. At around 21h30, it is said that a follow up call was received by the paramedics whereby the caller requested to meet with the medical staff at a certain spot for the direction to the scene. Little did the medical staff know that this was an orchestrated robbery which was paraded as an emergency call.
“As the ambulance arrived at the place mentioned by the caller, two males wearing balaclavas which covered their faces are said to have then emerged. The suspects allegedly held them hostage and took their cell phones from them before they tied them up with cable ties but kept inside the ambulance.”
The statement disclosed that the ambulance was reportedly driven to another place where five more suspects were noticed.
Continuing, it said “It is further reported that the suspects allegedly stripped the vehicle of its gear box, engine, two tyres as well as the battery. The total estimated value of the vehicle parts stolen is about R300,000.
“These motor parts were then loaded into another vehicle and surprisingly the suspects gave the EMS personnel, the cell phones taken earlier before they left the scene.”
The victims, the statement said, later managed to alert their supervisor and directed them to the location where they were.
“They (victims) were then rescued and the incident reported to the Police at Belfast where a case of robbery was reported. A manhunt has since been launched for the suspects.
According to the statement, the Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela has spoken strongly against the suspects who carried out the said robbery.
The Commissioner said “As law enforcement officers, we will not allow a situation like this, whereby emergency workers will be hindered to carry out their duties by criminals.
“We will do all in our powers to bring them to book and they cannot escape the arm of the law” said the General.
The Police in Belfast has also urged the public to assist with information on the whereabouts of the suspects by “calling the Captain Tobias Mogadime at 071 353 6763 or call the Crime Stop number at 08600 10111.
“Alternatively, members of the community can send information via MYSAPSAPP.”
It promised that all received information will be treated as confidential, while callers can also opt to remain anonymous.