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‘Sleeping’ stab victim ‘refused help’

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According to the family, the victim was left to die without receiving any treatment at his home in Jacksonville after being stabbed.

PARAMEDICS from the Northern Cape Department of Health’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) allegedly refused to treat a stab victim because they believed he was “sleeping”.

The family of 34-year-old Joseph van Schalkwyk said yesterday that they intended taking further action against the department following the incident that happened on Saturday night.

According to the family, Van Schalkwyk was left to die without receiving any treatment at his home in Jacksonville after being stabbed.

The family said that the suspect had chased Van Schalkwyk, apparently wanting to steal his cap, before allegedly stabbing him right on his doorstep.

They added that the suspect has been arrested and will be appearing in court soon.

According to the family, Van Schalkwyk suffered a stab wound to the head and they tried to stop the bleeding, while calling for an ambulance.

The ambulance reportedly arrived two hours later, only for the paramedic in the vehicle to apparently give a cursory glance at Van Schalkwyk, who was lying on a bed.

“They asked his girlfriend to sign in a book, stating that they had been there, and then left,” the family said yesterday. “They didn’t even examine him, or check his pulse or temperature . . . or even touch him at all.”

Family members blame the paramedics for allegedly not treating the case seriously and for not making any effort to save the victim’s life.

Van Schalkwyk’s girlfriend, Faith Hoogstander, said that two paramedics had come to the shack but only one got out of the ambulance and asked where the patient was.

“I showed him to the bed and told him the patient was sleeping on the bed. The paramedic just peeped at him, and then went outside, asking me to follow him. He then pulled out a book with red pages for me to sign in.”

She added that she had asked what she was signing for. “The paramedic said that it was to prove that they did not take the patient with them.

“They did not even go near or touch him,” she said.

Hoogstander said that she went to sleep next to her partner after the ambulance left as she was told to leave him to rest.

“At around 4am I needed to go to the bathroom and noticed that he had not moved at all and was still lying in the same position. I panicked and rushed to call my sister.

“Upon arrival, my sister checked him and we realised that his chest was swollen and there was no pulse or heartbeat, and his feet were cold. We then called the ambulance again.”

Hoogstander said the same paramedics arrived, except that this time the other paramedic entered the shack. “He called his colleague, who lied in front of me that he had spoken to the patient the night before and he had told him that he was okay.

“It was only when the forensics arrived that we realised that he had another stab wound in the back.

“They said the patient might have suffered internal bleeding as it seemed the blade was still stuck inside the wound,” she added close to tears.

The Northern Cape MEC for Health, Mase Manopole, yesterday expressed her condolences to the bereaved family.

According to the spokesperson for the Department of Health, Lebogang Majaha, the MEC has received a preliminary report from the EMS directorate detailing the events following the complaint laid by the family. “The MEC plans to visit the family tomorrow (Thursday) to release the details to the family as it cannot be done through the media,” said Majaha.

According to Majaha, unannounced visits to health facilities and the EMS base remain an ongoing programme of the MEC as part of strengthening the delivery of health care services to communities.