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Paramedics lied about ambulance hijacking

Paramedics apparently lied and said they were hijacked after they had negligently left a mentally ill patient in an ambulance with the engine running.

The two paramedics are said to have alighted from the vehicle at Maokeng section in Tembisa to speak to the man's uncle, leaving the keys in the ignition on News Year's Eve.

The patient's uncle, Johannes Ramosele, said he had called the ambulance after his nephew went on the rampage damaging his house and contents.

"I first called the police, who told me that they do not deal with mentally ill people. When the paramedics got here, they put him in the ambulance and got off to talk to me at the gate," Ramosele said last week.

The mentally ill man jumped into the ambulance's driver's seat and drove away.

The mentally ill man then drove to Vusumuzi section where he allegedly hit a shack, leaving the ambulance slightly damaged.

"My nephew drove off in the ambulance. There was no hijacking. I was shocked when I heard that the ambulance was hijacked," said Ramosele.

The Gauteng department of health that afternoon released a statement saying a new ambulance had been hijacked.

Department spokesman Steve Mabona said the ambulance was one of a new fleet unveiled on December 6 last year.

"The ambulance was dispatched to Tembisa to attend to a psychotic patient emergency. While busy attending to the said patient, the paramedics were approached by two men, who pointed them with firearms and demanded the vehicle.

"The said men took off in the vehicle, which was later found damaged and abandoned after allegedly crashing into a house after being driven at high speed.

"Fortunately, there was no patient in the vehicle," Mabona said.

He said another ambulance was immediately dispatched to attend to the patient.

"The affected employees have been referred for counselling. The said hijackers are still at large. Anyone with information must interact with police accordingly," he said.

But another member of the community who was at the scene confirmed that there was no hijacking.

"There were no criminals or guns. It was just a mentally ill guy happily driving the ambulance.

"He was trying to park the ambulance when he hit the shack. After that he just walked away. He did not run. People stood there laughing at what had happened," the man said.

However, on Thursday Mabona said: "We were not aware of these developments until you brought them to our attention. We are investigating the incident."

Captain Manyadza Ralidzhivha said there was no hijacking case that had been registered with the police. "We opened a case of theft of a motor vehicle," he said.

mafokwanep@sowetan.co.za

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