Ambulance and hospital refuse responsibility

MISSING: Khiphezakhe Zitha Nkomo. © UNknown.
MISSING: Khiphezakhe Zitha Nkomo. © UNknown.

Sibongile Mashaba

Sibongile Mashaba

Mystery surrounds the whereabouts of a man who was taken away by an ambulance after being shot and pelted with stones by robbers five days ago.

Police and the hospital say they know nothing about his whereabouts and do not have any record of the attack or admission.

But Netcare 911 insists that they left him at Leratong Hospital in the early hours of Monday.

Khiphezakhe Zitha Nkomo, 28, of Diepkloof in Soweto was apparently shot a few houses from his home.

His brother, Mntongazi, said Nkomo tried to flee from the robbers in Diepkloof Zone 2 but fell just three houses away from their home.

Mntongazi said: "They shot him in the leg but he ran and fell again. They then hit him with stones as he lay on the ground."

He said he did not know who called the ambulance but it came soon after the police arrived.

"The paramedics in the ambulance said they were taking him to Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital where we could not find him later.

"We then called Netcare 911 which gave us a number to call but we never got through," said Mntongazi.

Searches at Johannesburg General Hospital and Lesedi Clinic, in Soweto, were also fruitless.

"We even went to the government mortuary to look for him but to no avail," he said.

On Wednesday night Netcare 911 told Sowetan that its ambulance dropped the man off at Leratong Hospital where he died an hour later.

Neill Visser, a Netcare 911 Roodepoort operation's manager, said: "The ambulance took the man to Leratong Hospital because there was no one at Bara to give him medical attention. The casualty was closed."

Visser said they received the emergency call at 12.30am on Monday and "the patient was dropped off at Leratong Hospital at 1.20am".

Gauteng health spokesman Zanele Mngadi said the casualty unit was not completely closed, but that patients are referred to other hospitals when Bara is full.

"At other times the unit has many patients, and they are transferred to other hospitals for treatment. This is standard procedure," said Mngadi.

Yesterday, Nkomo's brothers went to Leratong Hospital but they were turned away and told that their brother was never admitted there.

Gladys Sabelani, of Leratong Hospital's enquiry office, said: "Nkomo does not appear in our records, and that means he was never admitted here."

The hospital's communications officer Francinah Ratsaka said: "We will investigate."

Soweto police spokesman Captain Lindiwe Mbatha said: "The incident is not in our records."