Ebola Affected Clinic Employees Brutalize FPA Reporter, Camera Seized
Monrovia – Denial was one of the major causes of the rapid spread of the deadly Ebola virus during the peak of the outbreak in Liberia in 2014.
Many communities concealed Ebola patients with some denying that their family members were suffering from Ebola, something that led to those already infected contaminating others, thereby increasing the spread of the virus.
In the latest case of Ebola virus that had led to two deaths, the index case, a woman is said to have sought treatment at a local Clinic, the Mawata Clinic in the Jacob Town Community in Paynesville City outside Monrovia, where some healthcare workers who attended to the woman have been placed under voluntary precautionary observation.
But it seems residents of the community and other employees of the Clinic see the latest Ebola case as a stigma against the Clinic as they vented their anger at FrontPageAfrica reporter Willie Tokpah who had gone to ascertain the current condition at the Mawata Clinic since a lady was treated at the Clinic and later confirmed to have died of Ebola.
The Clinic located in fenced compound was closed up during the reporters’ visit but upon taking photographs of the outside walls of the building and a signboard, the angry proprietor of the Clinic ordered employees and community dwellers to seize the camera and beat the reporter.
“They beat me, seized the camera, my cell phone, passport and all the items in my pocket including cash for photographing the Clinic. They said I am trying to bring stigma on the Clinic and the community”, said reporter Tokpah.
Police fail to help
Reporter Tokpah who later reported the incident to the Police depot in the Jacob Town community said two Police officers later accompanied him to the scene of the incident but he was surprised that the angry residents again started beating him in the presence of the Police officers who failed to rescue him from the second flogging.
“Right in front of the two Police officers, they started beating me again and the two Police guys said they were going for reinforcement but I had to run away and never saw the Police officers again”, said Tokpah.
When informed about the incident, Police Spokesperson Sam Collins told FPA to report the case to a Police zone with more assigned officers but even at the RedLight depot where reporter Tokpah accompanied by an editor at FPA reported the incident no Police officer was willing to help retrieve the items from the Mawata Clinic employees and nearby residents.
The failure of the Police to rescue a journalist from citizens raises more questions ahead of the drawdown of the United Nations Mission in Liberia with fears that mob violence could increase with the Police unable to help innocent citizens who may fall prey to violent people.
Collins on Sunday afternoon told FPA editor that the incident was reported on the Police internal radio but officers were cautioned to go to the scene of the incident with care because it is a risky zone due to the Ebola case.
One time Ebola Hotspot
The Jacob Town community which has an area known as Black Jina is heavily dominated by members of the Mandingo Ethnic group, many of whom are traders and commercial drivers who commute between Liberia and Guinea on a regular basis. During the peak of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia Black Jina and Jacob Town reported some of the largest numbers of Ebola cases and deaths.
During the Ebola outbreak in Liberia residents of Black Jina at one point in time shielded sick patients as healthcare workers assisted by the Police had to move in to remove sick patients for transfer to medical facilities for treatment. Communities action against health workers was common in Guinea during the peak of Ebola in that country as vehicles were attacked and set ablaze.
In Liberia, a community in Lofa County also attacked health workers but when many people were dying from the virus, the situation changed as communities started to embrace health workers and journalists.
At the time of declaring Liberia Ebola free, the Government of Liberia applauded the work of the media for reporting constantly on the virus which led to huge international support to defeat the virus.