Cape Town - Following widespread outrage and condemnation, the Netcare Group has distanced itself from an individual, purportedly linked to the company, who posted an inflammatory comment calling for the complete annihilation of Gaza, Palestine.
In a Facebook comment posted on Tuesday, the man identified as Winston Mullany said: “They should simply wipe Gaza off the face of the map. Problem solved. Then you won’t have to deal with back and forth comments on the world stage.”
The comment comes as the global community continues the call for a permanent ceasefire amid the ongoing military assault on Gaza which has resulted in the deaths of over 15 000 people. Israel has claimed to have conducted 10 000 airstrikes on the densely-populated and refugee-inhabited Gaza strip since October 7.
Netcare Group said Mullany, who posted photos of himself with a Netcare 911 ambulance, was in no way associated with Netcare.
In a media statement released yesterday, the group said it distanced itself from the anti-Gaza comments and that the inhumane views were at odds with its core values.
Netcare Group said Mullany was not an employee of Netcare or Netcare 911 and has never been. He however attended a three-month Ambulance Emergency Assistance course at the group’s training academy in 2016.
“Netcare Group would like to place on record that the individual who has previously posted photos of himself in Netcare branded clothing and posing next to a Netcare 911 ambulance is not employed by Netcare,” Netcare Group spokesperson Lynne O’Connor said.
“The uninformed and inhumane views the individual expressed are completely at odds with our core values of upholding the sanctity of human life.”
O’Connor said they were also considering legal options.
Mullany deactivated his Facebook account but returned to Facebook on Wednesday afternoon to offer a retraction of his previous comment.
In a Facebook post, he said: “The post was unfortunately turned out not the intended post before checking my wording. The backlash is understandable. For those, I would like to apologise if I caused any anger or distress and unpleasantness. I’ve retracted the post from Facebook. I do not support any war as civilians are the ones most vulnerable and lose the most though my post may appear otherwise.”
Responding to one of the comments, he said that the term Hamas was meant to be used instead of Gaza. However many have accused Mullany of backtracking due to the backlash.
Activist Moeshfieka Botha said: “As a mother, one cannot help but feel a myriad of emotions - anger included - when the call to ‘wipe off the face of the map’ - whether it be in Gaza or any other part of the world. However, it was extremely triggering to see that these types of comments were publicly made by a person - who from his pics on social media - is a profession meant to save lives - not call for the extermination of it.”