We must target the criminals who attack paramedics

Harsh punishment required for criminals who attack paramedics
Harsh punishment required for criminals who attack paramedics
Image: 911 Netcare Paramedics in a TV programme Red Alert.

In articles 24 and 25, the Geneva Conventions of 1949 demand for those involved in emergency and medical missions to be respected and protected in all circumstances.

This includes all medical facilities such as hospitals and personnel from the National Red Cross Society. Additional protocols were signed in later years to bring more clarity to the earlier treaties.

Considering the fact that these treaties were signed by parties as early as 1864, you would be forgiven to think that most of the people in our communities, including some of their dodgy community leaders, have a clear understanding on these matters.

Although these treaties were initially meant for countries involved in wars, they later became part of the international laws on respect for and protection of medical personnel.

While I want to join those South Africans who want to celebrate the 25th anniversary of our democracy this year, it is criminal and thug activities - such as the brazen attacks on our paramedics, emergency and medical personnel, and criminal activities in general - that make my heart bleed and reduce our hard-earned democracy celebration into just an ordinary public holiday for many of us.

It makes matters worse, more painful and unbearable when those responsible for attacks on our paramedics, emergency and medical personnel are as black as I am.

There is no need for us to be philosophical about this - it is heartbreaking.

We remain a sick society and I am convinced that out of all the population groups we have in SA, the community that urgently needs more psychological liberation is the black majority. I am also disappointed that even those who have self-appointed themselves as revolutionaries, radicals and spokespersons on the state of the black nation, have not shown as much outrage as they would have shown compared to other cases.

I guess I will soon be labelled as anti-black for refusing to be associated with black criminals and thugs - and any other criminals and thugs for that matter.

It is up to us within black communities to take a stand, identify those criminals and thugs responsible for the attacks on our paramedics, emergency and medical personnel and report them to the law enforcement agencies.

The criminal justice system must ensure that these criminals are harshly punished through our courts. In fact, we should have minimum sentences for all assault- and violence-related attacks of 15 years imprisonment without parole.

We have also witnessed during the so-called service delivery protests in some parts of our country and the so-called shutdown, how many of our citizens' human rights are violated during the so-called service delivery protests and denied free movement.

We urge all responsible and respectable community leaders in the black communities to take a firm stand against any form of criminal activities in our communities and help us to exorcise all the demons through the adoption of the black consciousness philosophy in order for psychological and physical liberation to be expedited and fulfilled.

We have no one to blame for all the ills in our communities as we enter the 25th year of our democracy, but ourselves.

Mogotsi is a spokesperson for the Azanian People's Organisation