A KwaZulu-Natal paramedic was shot dead in an ambush and her colleague was injured while they were in the process of preparing to transport injured patients to hospital in the early hours on Monday morning. 

KWAZULU-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane described the shooting, which resulted in the death of Phumzile Dlamini, a 40 year-old mother of three, and the critical wounding of her crew member last night, as “outrageous, barbaric and cowardly”.

Paramedic Phumzile Dlamini, 40, was shot dead during the early morning ambush in KZN. Photograph: Department of Health

Dlamini and her crew mate, whose name has been withheld by the department of health, were ambushed while in the back of the ambulance, in the early hours of the morning, while preparing to transport a patient to hospital. 

The patient had been shot at his home in the Mabhanoyini area, near Estcourt. The paramedics had already picked up a patient who had sustained a fractured leg, when they had to make a detour to the home of the wounded man. After securing him, they suddenly heard gunshots coming from outside.

Dlamini, an Intermediate Life Support paramedic with 10 years’ service from Greytown, was shot twice and died at the scene.  Her crew mate sustained three gunshots and was rushed to hospital, where he remains in a critical condition. 

None of the gunshots hit the two patients in the bullet-riddled ambulance.  

Cartridges of high-calibre bullets which were found at the scene deepened the mystery of why innocent paramedics had found themselves at the receiving end of the brutality.   

Simelane condemned the incident and sent her condolences to the Dlamini family. She also called on law enforcement authorities to bring the perpetrators to book.

“An incident like this is spine-chilling. It is barbaric, cowardly and completely shocking. It’s a strong signal that something has gone horribly wrong in our society when innocent first responders, whose core responsibility is to save lives by helping those in emergency situations, get attacked and murdered like this. It’s outrageous,” she said.

“We’re told that Ms Dlamini had a daughter aged 21 who is at university, and two sons aged 19 and 12. She had a husband, and had worked for the Department for 10 years. What must her family do, now that her life has been snuffed out so suddenly, and so senselessly? We don’t even know whether her crew-mate will survive this attack, or, if he does, how his life will be from now on. We can only wish him a full and speedy recovery, while our healthcare practitioners attend to him,” she said.

She said it was not the first time paramedics had been attacked.

“Incidents where paramedics get called out to emergency scenes, only to get robbed and stabbed, or subjected to various other forms of violence and hostility, have become commonplace. This really, really has to stop. We are calling on our communities to isolate and expose these heartless thugs.

“These criminals are in our communities. We are urging our people bring forward any information that might lead to the their arrest, so that they can be brought to book.

“We really don’t want a situation where our paramedics refuse to work at night, because then people whose lives can be saved will start dying,” she said.

Emer-G-Med spokesperson Kyle van Reneen condemned the attack.

“Emer-G-Med stands in solidarity with our brothers and sisters of KwaZulu-Natal  EMS in light of the recent attack on their members which resulted in the death of a female paramedic and another being left in a critical condition.”

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