20090710

127,000 annual bullet wounds in SA

Cost of a bullet …

ANC_Culture_Of_Violence_DurbanPupilsTaughtExecutionGameDurbanMarinaOct172008July 10 – From the SA Medical Journal, June 9 2009 - “Sleeping with a gun under your pillow in South Africa is not that uncommon. Given the soaring crime rates, people live in a constant state of fear and understandably many have taken precautionary measures to try and protect themselves and their loved ones.

Picture: Durban photographer Snowy Smith captured hundreds of small South African children being taught the ‘execution game’ by their adult carers at the Durban marina recently – indicating the atmosphere of gun-related violence in which these children are being raised.

“Sometimes this heightened state of anxiety and terror can result in tragedy – as witnessed last week, when a Sandton man mistakenly shot and killed his domestic worker’s 12-year-old son whom he mistook for an intruder. A few years ago, a former Springbok rugby player shot and killed his own daughter, after mistaking her for a car thief.

  “According to the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), a global movement against gun violence, South Africa has the fourth highest gun-homicide rate in the world. It also has the second-highest violent-death rate in the world, with 122 deaths per 100,000 people.

The organisation is calling for a Gun-Free 2010 World Cup in South Africa, following the shooting of an ANC councillor and member of the World Cup local organising committee earlier this year.

But firearm injuries are not just disabling to the individuals and communities they affect, studies show they also place a huge burden on state hospitals.

127,000 bullet wounds a year treated at SA state hospitals:

A recent study published in the South African Medical Journal* states that 127,000 individuals are treated at South African state hospitals each year for non-fatal firearm injuries with bullets. This news makes a mockery of the South African police crime statistics, which show that more than 80% of these gun-shot injuries never are reported to the police, although this is required under the South African legal system. http://www.saps.gov.za

  • The study estimates the average minimum cost for treating a gunshot injury at a tertiary hospital in South Africa in December 2006 was R15,722 ($US 2,230).

Based on extrapolated results from the study, the treatment of gunshot injuries at Tygerberg Hospital in 2006 cost the state a whopping R7,825,500 ($US 1,110, 000). The study included all patients with firearm-related injuries who were seriously injured and required admission for more than 12 hours.

Gunshot trends - study findings

  • Young male adults made up the majority of gunshot victims (87%) with an average age of 28 years.
  • Most were unmarried (89%).
  • Most patients sought medical care between 7pm and 7am and mostly over weekends.
  • The distribution of bullet entry wounds shows that most of gunshot injuries were in the legs, chest area and head.
  • The average length of stay was 5.8 days at an average cost of R2,714 ($US 385) per day.
  • Most patients (95%) underwent diagnostic imaging and 38% required surgical procedures in theatre.
  • Blood products were given to 16%.

According to the study, the greatest costs were: admission and duration of hospital stay, including ambulance transport and haemodialysis (64%), followed by diagnostic imaging (14%), surgical procedures (12%), and blood products (11%).**

Researchers recommend that “a national costing initiative, utilising a standardised costing system, is urgently required to efficiently determine the real costs of trauma to South Africa’s already under-resourced health system”. http://www.samj.org.za/index.php/samj/issue/view/90/showToc

One important aspect of these gunshot-wounds in South Africa, according to the Institute for Security Studies, is that more than 85% of all the guns used are AK-47 military assault weapons. And these are notoriously difficult to treat, with patients often requiring extensive rehabilibation and long-term hospitalisation. see

The Firearms Control Act

In South Africa, the Firearms Control Act (2000) replaced the Arms and Ammunition Act (1969). The new Act introduces more rigorous firearm control processes and procedures in South Africa, according to the Institute for Security Studies (ISS).

  • The Firearm Control Act has forced licensed gun owners to re-apply for their firearm licenses and lock their weapons up in registered gun-safes, with more stringent testing and background checks applied. Of course none of these new rules and laws would ever be applied to the huge criminal gangs which are the primary users of guns, illegal or otherwise.

However, in June the Pretoria High Court ruled that licences obtained under the 1969 firearms legislation will be deemed valid for now. This means that millions of gun owners who have not yet renewed their firearm licences in terms of the new Firearms Control Act have been granted temporary relief.

8,286 confiscated firearms went missing from police control…

  • Concerns over the security of the impounded firearms have also been raised. In response to a question in parliament earlier this year, the Ministry of Safety and Security acknowledged that some 8,286 firearms which had been recovered by the SAPS, had subsequently been lost, stolen or otherwise misplaced, said the ISS website.

SnowySmithDeterioratingDurbanPicsJuly2009 006Joseph Dube, IANSA Africa Coordinator said the 2010 World Cup was an opportunity, and that every football stadium in SA should be declared a gun-free zone in accordance with the Firearms Control Act of 2000. He also called for an immediate moratorium on the carrying of guns and that no new gun licences should be issued until the end of the tournament.  "2010 is not only a chance for South Africa to showcase its beauty and thriving businesses to the world, but a chance for the government to show that it is tough on gun crime," he said on the IANSA website.

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sources:

  • * Data was collected from Tygerberg tertiary teaching public hospital in Cape Town, 128 out of 203 gunshot victims were admitted for more than 12 hours
    ** These figures exclude the costs of staff salaries and laboratory and pharmacy costs.
    *** The costs in the study were published in US dollars, these were converted to South African rands, using mid-market rates from 31 December 2006 – when study occurred). The Rand’s value to the US dollar has dropped by 17% since that time.

References:

R25,000 reward for finding Dr Mike Sprenger’s murderers

 

July 10 2009 - Dr Mike Sprenger, a father of three who single-handedly ran a practice for 4,000 patients in middle- to low-income Rosettenville in greater Johannesburg, was murdered in his consulting rooms on 19 June 2009 – a day before father’s day. A concerned community member in the Booysens Area has now offered a reward of up to R25,000 for any information that will lead to a positive arrest and conviction of the suspects who had been directly connected and responsible for Dr Sprenger's murder. Sprenger is survived by his wife Desire, sons Jason, 11, and Gordon, 9, and daughter Loren, nearly 7.

Doctors on StrikeThis clearly dedicated doctor could have emigrated with his family years ago as so many other South African doctors have done – he however chose to stay and serve his community and continued to administer medicine at a time when his colleagues in the public sector are disgracing their profession by plunging the medical sector into a national crisis, striking for weeks on end and refusing to treat even the most critically-ill patients, picture left.

High crime area with 95 annual violent deaths…

Rosettenville is located in the Booysen district, which is one of the country’s main violent crime hotspots. In 2007 – according to the last available SAPS crime records – a total of 95 violent deaths were recorded there (48 murders + 47 culpible homicides), as well as 63 attempted murders.   There also were 302 armed robberies of businesses and homes that year during which 1,079 premises were torched and/or otherwise damaged. http://www.saps.gov.za/statistics/reports/crimestats/2008/_provinces/gauteng/pdf/booysens.pdf

Community is heartbroken:

After his murder, scores of bouquets, heartfelt messages and yellow police-issue crime scene cordons decked the metal gates to Prairie Centre in Rosettenville, the medical practice where doctor Sprenger was murdered and his rooms torched. Many people left flowers and messages, some prayed, others sobbed. Booysens police Inspector Lorraine van Emmerick said Sprenger, 55, had been working late on Thursday night when he was attacked in his rooms. He had been alone at the time.

  • She said unknown attackers had entered the medical centre and were believed to have stabbed Sprenger to death, before robbing the practice and then setting fire to his rooms. The fire is believed to have been used to cover up what was stolen.

"We were out at about 8pm at the same time as the fire brigade. They put out the flames and then discovered a body, which was taken to the mortuary. An autopsy was conducted on Friday morning, where it was found that Dr Sprenger had been stabbed to death before the rooms were set alight," Van Emmerick said. She said it appeared that the doctor had been working in the dispensary when the attack happened. Detectives have returned to the rooms and painstakingly gone through the charred remains.

  • "At this stage, it is still difficult to say what exactly was taken, but we are looking at a robbery of medical equipment and medical supplies," she said, adding that one room had been completely burnt out and other rooms slightly damaged."We are investigating a robbery as there is no evidence to suggest anything else," she said, when asked whether detectives suspected that the murder could have been a ‘crime gang’ hit.

Receptionist Beth Heystek said the medical practice belonged solely to Sprenger, who had recently rented out rooms on the premises to a dentist. He did his own dispensing of medication, hence the presence of a dispensary. She said Sprenger had "about 4,000 patients, if not more" coming to his practice.  One distraught woman arrived at Prairie Centre the day after the murder – sobbing as she left flowers and took down the contact number given for patients wanting funeral details.

  • "I have been a patient of Dr Sprenger for 18 years. He was not just my doctor, he was like a friend who always had time. He had a beautiful family, their photos were all over, and he was a beautiful man," she said, declining to give her name. "His children are still small, and my heart breaks for them because it's Father's Day today."

A bouquet on the ground held the message: "You will be sadly missed, my friend and our doctor. Rest in peace, Mike. Love, the Soutar family." Another had a personal message of condolence for the bereaved widow and children.

One man pulled up at the centre and jumped out of his car. He stood silently in front of the gate, seemingly in prayer, ignoring the presence of others around him. He got back into his car, where he sat hammering on the steering wheel as he let out anguished screams before driving off. http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?art_id=vn20090622060634162C978136

Background, Rosettenville community health:

Three-quarters of all the people tested by the Rosettenville community clinics for HIV/Aids are infected. ‘AIDS is running rampant,’  says Vicky Manzini, the operational manager for Malvern and Glenanda clinics. "And it is [affecting] very young people, between 20 and 35 years old. Three quarters of people we test end up being positive," Manzini says. the people in the suburb hail from all over the continent. Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe

 

R25,000 reward for finding Dr Mike Sprenger’s murderers

 

July 10 2009 - Dr Mike Sprenger, a father of three who single-handedly ran a practice for 4,000 patients in the middle- to low-income Rosettenville in greater Johannesburg, was murdered in his consulting rooms on 19 June 2009 – father’s day. A concerned community member in the Booysens Area has now offered a reward of up to R25,000 for any information that will lead to a positive arrest and conviction of the suspects who had been directly connected and responsible for Dr Sprenger's murder. Sprenger is survived by his wife Desire, sons Jason, 11, and Gordon, 9, and daughter Loren, nearly 7. This clearly dedicated doctor could have emigrated with his family years ago as so many other South African doctors have done – he however chose to stay and serve his community.

High crime area with 95 annual violent deaths…

Rosettenville is located in the Booysen district, which is one of the country’s main violent crime hotspots. In 2007 – according to the last available SAPS crime records – a total of 95 violent deaths were recorded there (48 murders + 47 culpible homicides), as well as 63 attempted murders.   There also were 302 armed robberies of businesses and homes that year during which 1,079 premises were torched and/or otherwise damaged. http://www.saps.gov.za/statistics/reports/crimestats/2008/_provinces/gauteng/pdf/booysens.pdf

Community is heartbroken:

After his murder, scores of bouquets, heartfelt messages and yellow police-issue crime scene cordons decked the metal gates to Prairie Centre in Rosettenville, the medical practice where doctor Sprenger was murdered and his rooms torched. Many people left flowers and messages, some prayed, others sobbed. Booysens police Inspector Lorraine van Emmerick said Sprenger, 55, had been working late on Thursday night when he was attacked in his rooms. He had been alone at the time.

  • She said unknown attackers had entered the medical centre and were believed to have stabbed Sprenger to death, before robbing the practice and then setting fire to his rooms. The fire is believed to have been used to cover up what was stolen.

"We were out at about 8pm at the same time as the fire brigade. They put out the flames and then discovered a body, which was taken to the mortuary. An autopsy was conducted on Friday morning, where it was found that Dr Sprenger had been stabbed to death before the rooms were set alight," Van Emmerick said. She said it appeared that the doctor had been working in the dispensary when the attack happened. Detectives have returned to the rooms and painstakingly gone through the charred remains.

  • "At this stage, it is still difficult to say what exactly was taken, but we are looking at a robbery of medical equipment and medical supplies," she said, adding that one room had been completely burnt out and other rooms slightly damaged."We are investigating a robbery as there is no evidence to suggest anything else," she said, when asked whether detectives suspected that the murder could have been a ‘crime gang’ hit.

Receptionist Beth Heystek said the medical practice belonged solely to Sprenger, who had recently rented out rooms on the premises to a dentist. He did his own dispensing of medication, hence the presence of a dispensary. She said Sprenger had "about , 000 patients, if not more" coming to his practice.  One distraught woman arrived at Prairie Centre yesterday and sobbed as she left flowers and took down the contact number given for patients wanting funeral details.

"I have been a patient of Dr Sprenger for 18 years. He was not just my doctor, he was like a friend who always had time. He had a beautiful family, their photos were all over, and he was a beautiful man," she said, declining to give her name. "His children are still small, and my heart breaks for them because it's Father's Day today."

A bouquet on the ground held the message: "You will be sadly missed, my friend and our doctor. Rest in peace, Mike. Love, the Soutar family." Another had a personal message of condolence for the bereaved widow and children.

One man pulled up at the centre and jumped out of his car. He stood silently in front of the gate, seemingly in prayer, ignoring the presence of others around him. He got back into his car, where he sat hammering on the steering wheel as he let out anguished screams before driving off. http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?art_id=vn20090622060634162C978136

Background, Rosettenville community health:

Three-quarters of all the people tested by the Rosettenville community clinics for HIV/Aids are infected. ‘AIDS is running rampant,’  says Vicky Manzini, the operational manager for Malvern and Glenanda clinics. "And it is [affecting] very young people, between 20 and 35 years old. Three quarters of people we test end up being positive," Manzini says. the people in the suburb hail from all over the continent. Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe http://joburgnews.co.za/2007/mar/mar20_rosettenville.stm