Alleged Pelonomi hospital rapist appears in court

A 32-year-old man from Bronville appeared briefly in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Friday on a charge of attempted rape, Free State police said.

The case was postponed to June 14 for further investigation. This followed an incident at Pelonomi Hospital in Bloemfontein where the suspect, posing as a patient, allegedly tried to sexually assault a 24-year-old student Doctor at about 11.50pm on Tuesday night, the South African Police Service (SAPS) said in a statement.

During the incident, the doctor managed to overpower the suspect and bit off a part of his tongue in the process. The suspect then ran away. He was traced and arrested at another local hospital where he went to seek medical treatment and was arrested. He was remanded in custody pending his next court appearance, SAPS said in the statement.

Earlier, the Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa) and the South African Medical Association (SAMA) condemned the attempted rape of a doctor.

Hospersa called for strong action against the alleged perpetrator and for new Health Minister Zweli Mkhize to urgently address the poor state of safety and security management at public health institutions in the country.

“One can only imagine the trauma that the female doctor is going through. We condemn this act in the strongest terms and are deeply concerned that such acts can take place at our public health institutions,” Hospersa spokesman Kevin Halama said in the statement.

“It is disturbing to note that there has not been much willingness from the department of health to fix safety and security management at its facilities. We cannot allow health workers’ lives to be put in danger any longer while the department drags its feet in addressing their genuine concerns,” Halama said

In a separate statement, SAMA said it was horrified by the attempted rape. “This is a highly concerning event. It is discouraging that the safety and security of healthcare practitioners in public institutions is an issue which has still not been prioritised by the department of health, especially at this hospital where a similar incident has occurred before,” SAMA chairwoman Dr Angelique Coetzee said.

Coetzee said SAMA was concerned and dismayed by the shocking frequency of assaults on healthcare practitioners at public institutions. “The safety of all healthcare practitioners in our public institutions is of paramount importance and, as such, SAMA calls on the minister of health, together with the minister of police, to urgently assess the safety and security at these institutions,” Coetzee said.

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