Uniformed paramedics marched and ambulance lights flashed during a South African protest against attacks on emergency responders, who are sometimes targeted by criminals when they rush to treat patients in poor communities.

Spokesman Robert Daniels said Thursday that paramedics in Western Cape province have been robbed and in a few cases assaulted 42 times so far this year. That's an increase of roughly 30 percent over the same period in 2015.

Daniels, who attended the protest Wednesday in the Cape Town area, says thieves sometimes rob paramedics of wallets, cell phones and other belongings while patients are in their vehicles.

He says one paramedic was stabbed with a broken bottle.

Attacks on paramedics have occurred elsewhere in South Africa, which has a high rate of violent crime.