Mom forced to take dead baby home

17 October 2019 - 09:13
By Peter Ramothwala
Grieving Sandra Phoku and her aunt Elizabeth Manganye moments after pathologists fetched the body.
Image: PETER RAMOTHWALA Grieving Sandra Phoku and her aunt Elizabeth Manganye moments after pathologists fetched the body.

A 29-year-old Limpopo woman's newborn baby died on Tuesday night after she was forced to give birth outside a clinic, in rainy, cold weather.

Sandra Phoku was allegedly turned away twice by security guards at the Marulaneng Clinic after she went there complaining of pains.

Phoku also spent the night at home at Dintshweneng village, Moganyaka, outside Marble Hall, with her dead baby.

Now, Phoku, who was six months pregnant, wants "drastic action" to be taken against the security guard who barred her from entering the facility and forced her to walk back home to fetch her clinic card.

"The security company and the nurses should leave the clinic because they don't serve the community. I want MEC Phophi Ramathuba to fire all of them and bring people who are committed to help," Phoku said.

She said her nightmare started late in the afternoon on Tuesday when she experienced labour pains while on her way from Marble Hall town.

"I got off the taxi just outside the clinic and I explained to a female security guard that I'm in pain but I had left my clinic card at home.

"She told me to rush home and get it. I insisted that I can't, I was in pain but she wouldn't budge."

The woman said she walked home, more than a kilometre away, to fetch her card and that's when she started bleeding. She had to walk back to the clinic and when she arrived at about 5pm, she was told that nurses had knocked off.

"I was with my mother when I went for the second time and we had already called an ambulance which took time to arrive. We waited outside the clinic and my mother kept negotiating with the security guards to help me.

"At about 9pm, I started feeling my baby coming out.

"I immediately took off my towel and laid on it. I started pushing while screaming for my mother's attention. She came and helped me deliver the baby in the cold and drizzling weather."

Phoku said nurses were called by the security guard after noticing that the baby had been delivered.

"The nurses arrived and removed the umbilical cord and rushed the baby into the clinic. A few minutes later, they told me my baby was dead."

When Sowetan arrived at the house at about 11am yesterday, the pathology services and police cars were parked outside. It was ony then that the body was taken away.

Department of health spokesperson Neil Shikwambana said: "It is quite unacceptable that security guards could turn away patients at the gate. Their duty is to protect and safeguard the property, and a pregnant woman cannot pose danger.

Phoku said she felt her baby breathing after giving birth.

"What breaks my heart is that the nurses forced me to go home with the dead body because they said it cannot remain in the clinic as rats would feast on the body. We slept with it in the house the whole night."

Shikwambana said the clinic operates from 8am to 5pm.

"We are going to institute investigation to establish on whose directive did the security guard act," he said.

Phoku's aunt Elizabeth Manganye, 50, said action should be taken.

"You can't turn someone away because she left a card [at home] while you see she is in pain. They must be fired and the clinic should be accessible 24 hours," Manganye said. She also blamed the emergency service officials who transported the body to the house instead of the Matlala Hospital.