Soweto doctors under siege from criminals
Doctors in Soweto have come under siege as their surgeries and medical centres have been targeted by criminals pretending to be patients.
The criminals pounce on unsuspecting doctors, patients and employees, and hold them hostage before making off with their belongings, including cash, cellphones and laptops.
They have also emptied out medical dispensaries where they have targeted ARVs and cough mixtures.
Doctors believe that criminals were operating within a syndicate that targeted their workplaces for valuables and medication.
In the most recent incident, a doctor working in Meadowlands said criminals barged into his practice and demanded that he give them ARVs.
The doctor said his surgery was hit on April 30.
"They came in as patients and were wearing masks. They pulled out their guns on other patients and took their belongings. They took my cellphones, money, and bank cards.
"They demanded ARVs but I didn't have them because I don't keep them in the practice," he said.
He said they were held hostage while some of the criminals went to the ATMs to withdraw money.
"It seems like it's a syndicate... Why would a normal person even begin to rob a doctor and then demand medication?
"What are they going to do with that medication?"
Dr Daniel Ngwenya, also based in Meadowlands, said five men stormed his practice and demanded ARVs. They also took valuables.
He said on April 22 two of the five men entered his practice and inquired about the consultation fees and medical certificates.
"It was a quiet day and I didn't have any patients. I was watching a webinar in my office so I wasn't aware of what was happening in the reception area. After asking about the consultation fees one of them closed the door and told the receptionist that they were there to work," Ngwenya said.
He said the perpetrators went into his consultation room where they searched for a firearm and a panic button.
"They told me they wanted all the ARVs in the practice but I told them I don't keep any. I told them that I only prescribed them and they grew angry. They then took my bank cards and ordered me to give them my pin.
"Two of them went to the ATM and withdrew about R1,200. They then took my cellphones, a laptop, printers and a microwave. They left some of these items and contemplated taking my car but left it as well."
He said he was terrified during the ordeal because one of the suspects showed him the bullets in his gun.
"I knew I needed to cooperate and that's why I gave them the correct pins and everything they asked for," he said.
Doctors in Soweto, however, have been robbed even before the lockdown started.
Dr Leteketa Makoro said criminals took money from his practice and from his account in February.
At the time of the robbery, Makoro was attending to a patient in his office.
"It was around 4.30pm on February 12. I think they took advantage of the rainy conditions on the day and we didn't have electricity. I heard a noise in the reception and thought maybe it was a psychiatric patient who was making a noise.
"But I was shocked when one of them barged into my office and said 'Yes! Ubani udoctor la [who is the doctor here]'."
Makoro said the assailant pulled out a gun and waved it around.
"His accomplice came in; he was smartly dressed and would not pass as a robber. He calmly told me that they wanted money and they were going to use internet banking, eWallet and they would do cash withdrawals," Makoro said.
He said the robber then accessed his banking app and sent himself R3,000.
"We had about R3,000 in the practice and they took it as well. They complained that it was little but we didn't have more money. They took our phones and four laptops.
"There was one who was wearing a balaclava; he emptied out the dispensary and took all the cough mixtures.
"They even removed CCTV footage," he said.
Makoro said the group of robbers used his car to escape from his surgery but it was later found dumped in Naledi, a short distance from his Protea Glen surgery.
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