Doctor 'assaulted by law enforcement', organisations demand action

Professional societies have condemned recent incidences of unacceptable treatment of doctors and colleagues, allegedly at the hands of law enforcement.

The societies who have made their voices heard include the Critical Care Society of Southern Africa (CCSSA), the South African Medical Association (Sama), the South African Society of Anaesthesiologists (Sasa) and the South African Thoracic Society (Sats).

This comes after reports that a seasoned pulmonologist, who has been working around the clock to help combat Covid-19, was allegedly throttled and assaulted by Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) officers.

It was earlier reported that Dr Emmanuel Taban and his wife, a physiotherapist, who both work at Midstream Mediclinic Hospital in Tshwane, allege that unidentified officers harassed, assaulted and even throttled Taban until he passed out on the R54 on Saturday afternoon.

TMPD spokesperson Isaac Mahamba previously said that the "matter is receiving the necessary attention it deserves".

The societies allege that this is not the first time frontline workers have experienced such incidents.

"Other colleagues working on the frontline of the pandemic describe similar harrowing experiences by threatening and rude law enforcement officers whilst driving to and from work, at all hours of the day and night.

"Some colleagues have resorted to remaining at their place of work rather than driving home after hours, for fear of similar treatment," the joint statement on Tuesday reads.

CCSSA, Sama, Sasa and Sats are of the view that such treatment by authorities of any citizen of the country is a violation of human rights and grossly unacceptable.

"While the need for law enforcement is understood, the police should be providing protection and support to health professionals working to fight the pandemic and not causing them to fear being tortured and bullied," the societies added.

The societies have further called for action to be taken by authorities.

"CCSSA, SAMA, SASA and SATS particularly deplore the extreme nature of the violence against Dr Taban and his wife at the hands of law enforcement officers and urge the responsible authorities to take urgent action against such police behaviour, and to protect and support all our healthcare professionals as they strive to serve the people of South Africa during these trying times," the statement concluded.

For more news your way, download The Citizen's app for iOS and Android.