Police and EMS workers clash in Vincent
Clashes broke out on Tuesday between protesting ambulance workers and East London public order police outside the Vincent ambulance base.
As the EMS protest went into its second day, police broke up the gathering using tear gas.
According to EMS staffers, police opened fire at them with rubber bullets, charged at them throwing stun grenades, and physically manhandled female paramedics.
Paramedics said they ran in different directions for cover as police charged at them from close-range.
When the Dispatch arrived at the base, emotions were high and voices were raised as angry paramedics demanded to know why they were shot at.
An EMS staffer told the Dispatch their peaceful protest was turned into chaos by police.
“We were sitting outside the base peacefully when the police came and intimidated us by taking out their guns and said they were giving us ten minutes to leave. But in less than a minute they started shooting.”
A woman paramedic tried to run away but she fell and injured her knee. She said police manhandled her and threatened to arrest her.
“The cops didn't even say anything to us. They didn't give us any warning. Everything was peaceful; they did not need to do what they did.”
The Dispatch heard one policeman telling the protesters they were demonstrating at a “national key point” and therefore had to forcefully be removed.
After the standoff with the paramedics, police moved their cars across the road from the base and watched from a distance as the paramedics continued to shout at them.
Police spokesperson Mluleki Mbi said: “The paramedics were burning tyres and they were blocking the entrance to the base. They thus had to be dispersed using tear gas.”
Health spokesperson Lwandile Sicwetsha said: "The unions want payment dating back 2003 for overtime hours and this is what they are protesting for currently. This 2003 claim is under dispute.”..