Protesters attack firefighters while trying to douse flames in Cape Town

Cape Town firefighters saving people and property from flames have been attacked three times in just 48 hours, as violent protests engulf some areas of the city this week.

The attackers have been labelled “cowards” for their violence against the essential emergency service, as protests over land hit many areas around the N2 over the past few days.

On Thursday, the City of Cape Town’s Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith, said: “After a stoning incident in Khayelitsha on Tuesday, a petrol bomb was hurled at a fire truck in Mfuleni just hours later.

“The fire engine was en route to a call when they were attacked at the Bosasa TRA just after 19:30.

“The attackers threw stones at the vehicle, but also a petrol bomb. Staff saw flames on the right side of the crew cab, but they didn’t stop and drove to the Blue Downs police station instead.

“Fortunately, the vehicle didn’t catch alight, and no one was injured,” Smith said.

But the attacks had not stopped.

Smith explained: “Fast-forward 24 hours and the same happened to another fire vehicle in Mfuleni while under police escort. The roof lining caught alight, but staff were able to extinguish the flames in time.”

During approximately the same time period, the City reported similar attacks on other essential agencies, including:

  • Four EMS teams came under attack on Monday. One of the teams had a patient in their ambulance at the time of the attack.
  • A Dial-A-Ride vehicle which provides transport to disabled people in communities was stoned, injuring passengers and damaging the vehicle.
  • Firefighters on their way to a fire in Khayelitsha were surrounded and their vehicle stoned. The firefighters were not seriously injured. However, the vehicle was damaged and will now be out of commission until it can be repaired.
  • A refuse removal truck was set alight.
  • Damage to schools, including the destruction of a classroom, a library and a school hall.
  • After attacks on its staff, Eskom has withdrawn services to certain parts of Khayelitsha and Mfuleni meaning that faults in these areas will not be attended to.
  • A Golden Arrow bus was petrol bombed in Mfuleni in the early hours of Wednesday.

“The City condemns these cowardly attacks on our staff. The Fire and Rescue Service is there to assist communities. The ongoing attacks on staff could seriously impact on service delivery to our most vulnerable communities, as crews will not be entering flashpoint areas without police escorts, which will slow down response times to fires and other emergencies,” Smith said.

“I renew my call on the public to please report any information they may have about those responsible for the violence to our Public Emergency Communication Centre by dialling 021 480 7700 from a cellphone or 107 from a landline.”

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