THE family of a heavily pregnant Limpopo woman who died in hospital has blamed nurses for negligence that led to her death.

This follows allegations that nurses at the Louis Trichardt Memorial Hospital had left the woman, who was complaining of serious pain, unattended.

Sylvester Mpe died on May 9 after complaining of excruciating pain.

She had gone to the hospital after suffering from labour pains.

Mpe screamed for help but nurses at the hospital apparently ignored her cries.

They allegedly told her aunt Maggie Mametja, who had accompanied her to the institution, that the pains she was feeling were nothing serious but just "the price of being a woman in labour".

Mametja said Mpe started complaining about labour pains at about 2am and an ambulance was called to take her to hospital.

On arrival at the hospital, nurses told her there was no doctor. And they could only put her on a drip to relieve her.

"At around 5am Mpe started complaining of serious pain and indicated she was also thirsty," said Mametja.

She said nurses told Mpe there were no cups to get her drinking water.

"After a moment a nurse came and summoned me to the counselling room where she, surprisingly, broke the news of her death to me," she said.

Mametja said on her arrival at the hospital Mpe's mother, Esther Mokhuru, was told to call an undertaker to come and collect the corpse.

Mokhuru said: "What is worrying is that no postmortem was conducted to determine the cause of death for my daughter and her unborn child."

Mokhuru said a doctor at the hospital told the family that the anti-retrovirals Mpe had been taking could have contributed to her death.

Mpe and her unborn child were buried at their home village of De Vrede in Senwabarwana.

The family had to use one coffin to bury the two because of financial constraints.

"It is painful to lose both mother and child at the same time. The matter must be investigated so that the truth must come out," said the grieving Mokhuru.

Spokesperson for the provincial department of health and social development Roleta Lebelo said they were not aware of the incident but would investigate it.