News and Information

Shock as SA vagrant left to die
September 24, 2004
An investigation has been launched after paramedics allegedly left a homeless man in Johannesburg to die because he was dirty.
Images of the man in the gutter and his cursory examination by paramedics were captured on security cameras.

South Africa's Health Minister expressed shock at what she said appeared to be appalling conduct.

"We should ensure that such an incident never happens again in this country," said Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.

'No excuses'

An outraged head of the Johannesburg Emergency Medical Services, Dr Audrey Gule, is personally investigating the incident, says a spokesman.

"There can be no excuse for not treating people. The only time medics won't treat patients is when they refuse to be treated and when they are dead. Dr Gule will get to the bottom of this matter," a spokesman pledged.

The unidentified man was spotted by surveillance cameras lying in a gutter in central Johannesburg.

Security guards went to investigate and saw he was in need of emergency medical attention

They called an ambulance which arrived shortly afterwards, but after conducting a brief investigation the paramedics, wearing surgical gloves, moved the man to a nearby wall and left him there.

They stayed approximately five minutes.

According to the guards, they were told that the paramedics would not let the man into their ambulance because he was "too dirty and stank".

He died a few hours later- from what the authorities say was natural causes.


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