Possible negligence by hospital may be probed

Victor Hlungwani

Victor Hlungwani

The birth of a child is a highlight for any parent. But for Vuntlarhi Mahlale, the arrival of her baby girl on January 16 was a nightmare.

The girl, now two months old, was born without arms. As if that were not enough for the mother, she claims her husband walked out on her because of the baby's defect.

Lucky Sibiya, the 27-year-old father, admits he abandoned his armless child after his mother told him that he would get sick and die if he went anywhere near the baby.

Now the desperate mother does not know who to turn to for help.

Sibiya, 27, a security guard in Pretoria, has not seen the baby, but says he is now considering going back to his wife and child - despite his mother's warning.

Mahlale gave birth to Shiluva Sibiya at Tonga Hospital in Mpumalanga.

Mahlale, from Shihosani village outside Malamulele in Limpopo, said: "My husband used to call and support me financially while he was working in Gauteng. But since he heard that I gave birth to a disabled girl, he does not want to talk to me.

"One day he told me his mother had told him not to see the girl because he would die if he did so," Mahlale said.

Shiluva, which means "flower" in Xitsonga, is Mahlale's first child.

"I am very proud to have a baby, but I am suffering. I have no money to buy food. I wish her father would return and support us," said the unemployed mother.

Despite the baby being born with no limbs, her birth was natural.

"There was no need for me to have an abortion. I love my baby girl," said Mahlale.

Her dilemma now is how to access a child support grant or a disability grant because the baby does not have a birth certificate.

"Since my husband left I moved from Mpumalanga to Limpopo. I missed the baby's appointment with specialists on January 31 because I had no money to go to Witbank Hospital," she said.

"I have another appointment for March 28, but I don't think I will make it because I am penniless."

Mpho Gabashane, a spokesman for the Mpumalanga Department of Health and Social Development, said the department was investigating a possible case of negligence against Tonga Hospital.

"I would also encourage the mother to take the child for check-ups so that a doctor can determine whether she qualifies for a child support or disability grant," said Gabashane.