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Cold comfort for youth shot during protests

FILE IMAGE: Mofumahadi Manapo Mopeli Regional Hospital.
FILE IMAGE: Mofumahadi Manapo Mopeli Regional Hospital.
Image: Waldo Swiegers.

Thomas Nkabinde walked into Mofumahadi Manapo Mopeli Hospital in Phuthaditjhaba with his son Brighton with a drip hanging on his arm, hoping to get help. His son had a bullet lodged in his right shoulder and needed urgent help.

But the nurses and a few intern doctors at the entrance of the hospital broke the bad news to the father and his son.

"We don't have nurses and doctors. We are operating on skeleton staff and there is very little we can do for you. We will try our best," a nurse said.

Brighton, 20, was shot during protests over water in Phuthaditjhaba on Monday at about 1pm. He went to the Elizabeth Ross Hospital, about 10km away, and they put him on a drip but did not have the expertise to remove the bullet.

Out of frustration, Brighton left the hospital as he had waited over 20 hours. Nurses at Mofumahadi Manapo Mopeli Hospital explained to Brighton that without a file it would be difficult to assist him.

"We don't know how the bullet damaged your shoulder. Did it go through the veins or what, we don't know. We will try to help you, but next time do not just leave a hospital," the nurse explained politely.

As nurses moved Brighton to one of the cubicles for help, his father spoke to his family on the phone about the problems they were facing.

"How does someone get shot with live ammunition in a protest?" he asked.

Nkabinde said that he was not angry at all at the medical staff as they were facing a serious crisis. "I am a human being, I understand what is happening at the hospital. The situation outside does not allow for good services inside the hospital, therefore I cannot complain about what is happening here," Nkabinde said. 

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