Khayelitsha, a township of Cape Town, South Africa, was the scene of another senseless murder on Thursday night, when Dr. Michael Aluko, a locum physician at the hospital, was shot dead, sparking safety concerns among staff. The 42-year-old doctor left the hospital after working a 24-hour shift to buy food from a nearby petrol station. The apparent reason for the murder was robbery and hijacking. Dr. Aluko did not return to the hospital, and his body was discovered near a cemetery the next day.
The Democratic Nursing Organization of South Africa (DENOSA) condemned the murder and feared for the safety of health professionals working in the township of Khayelitsha. In a statement issued on July 4, DENOSA said doctors and nurses were targets for criminals, and muggings frequently occurred as they depart from the hospital. DENOSA gave a warning that health providers would leave the Khayelitsha Township facilities if serious protective steps were ignored. The safety of health workers remains a critical pillar of DENOSA, which has embarked on a campaign for better security structures of medical staff working in Khayelitsha.
Khayelitsha is a township with an increasing population of black and colored people living in squatter camp conditions. The African National Congress (ANC) government claims to have improved living conditions substantially since they came into power in 1994. A large section of residents disputes that claim, saying that little has been done, and the rise in crime has worsened.
While Hillbrow, Johannesburg, is rated a high crime city, Khayelitsha is regarded as the highest crime city in South Africa. A 2013 crime statistics confirmed that more reports of murder, sexual crimes and assaults came from the Khayelitsha city than any other place within South Africa. There are three South Africa police precincts within the township and police officers are often redeployed to work in more dangerous neighborhoods as a form of punishment for incompetence or misconduct.
The failure of the South African police to combat serious crime within the township of Khayelitsha is related to the shortages of resources and underperformance within a system that necessitates failure. The police remain part of a systematic problem and dealing with the crime issues while trying to protect the citizens remains a constant fear. The entire criminal justice system fails the residents of Khayelitsha.
The anguish and fear of the medical workers in Khayelitsha almost brought the facility to a standstill as personnel stayed away after the death of Dr. Aluko. Medical staff confessed they were unmotivated to return to work, fearing for their lives after hearing about the killing. The staff acknowledged that they were always aware of the high crime levels within the city. At most times, staff at the medical center remained cautious and suspicious of patients who were often involved in gang-related crimes.
Theuns Botha the South African health MEC reacted with shock at the death of Dr. Aluko and revealed that some staff were affected by the tragic killing. Counseling for the traumatized staff was organized, and Botha confirmed that additional security measures linked with increased police visibility was under way.
Described as a hardworking and dedicated doctor by his coworkers, Dr. Aluko, a Nigerian-born doctor moved to Cape Town over a year ago. Dr. Aluko’s murder sparked a serious safety concern for the medical professionals of Khayelitsha South Africa.
By Laura Oneale