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New mother dies waiting for an ambulance

A HEAVILY pregnant woman died of complications after an ambulance that was summoned to fetch her was delayed for two hours by protesters

The events unfolded in Ganyesa on Wednesday.

Police said the ambulance and other vehicles providing services to the community were blocked from entering and leaving Ganyesa, which is 70km north of Vryburg in North West.

The protest action started on Monday with the community demanding that roads leading to the four villages be tarred.

The North West provincial health department confirmed the woman died at a local clinic in the morning.

Department spokesman Tebogo Lekgethwane said the woman went into labour at Kgokgojane Clinic near Ganyesa, where she waited for an ambulance that took two hours to arrive.

Lekgethwane said the woman suffered from a retained placenta during the final stages of labour and that resulted in excessive bleeding.

"Retained placenta is a condition in which all or part of the placenta or membranes are left behind in the uterus during the third stage of labour," he said.

The situation required emergency medical services and the woman needed to be transported urgently to Ganyesa District Hospital.

Lekgethwane said the clinic nurses managed to keep the baby alive and that the infant is in good health.

The protesters said they were promised a tarred road four years ago by the provincial department of local government.

Schools were also disrupted and pupils were forced to join and support the protest.

Police spokesman Brigadier Thulane Ngubane said police vehicles were stoned while shops belonging to Pakistani nationals were vandalised and looted.

Health MEC Magome Masike said he was saddened by the incident.

"We have been working very hard to reduce infant and maternal mortality in the province because we believe one maternal death is one too many.

"Reduction of maternal and infant mortality is one of our key priorities," he said. "It is also a key Millennium Development Goal and this latest incident has set us back in our quest to reduce maternal and infant mortality."

The MEC said: "As a department we render essential services, which are sometimes a matter of life and death, as proven by this case.

"No matter how angry the communities are about their demands, there is no reason that anyone can give in stopping an ambulance.

"We are deeply hurt by this loss and we share grief with the family of the deceased mother," he said.

Ngubane said the police were still monitoring the situation in eight villages around Ganyesa.

He said about 58 community members from different villages have been arrested and are expected to appear in the Ganyesa Magistrate's Court on charges of public violence, malicious damage to property and looting. - tsheheb@sowetan.co.za