Poor treatment, negligence levelled at facility

More families come forward to slam Tembisa Hospital

28 January 2021 - 17:25
By Karabo Ledwaba, karabo ledwaba AND Karabo Ledwaba
More families of patients who were allegedly ill-treated at the Tembisa Tertiary Hospital have spoken out
Image: THULANI MBELE More families of patients who were allegedly ill-treated at the Tembisa Tertiary Hospital have spoken out

More families of patients who were allegedly ill-treated at the Tembisa Tertiary Hospital have spoken. 

Several families on Thursday spoke in support of Shonisani Lethole, who died after being starved for four days while in a Covid-19 ward last year.

Health ombudsman Prof Malegapuru Makgoba found that Lethole arrived at the hospital on June 23 but only saw a medical doctor on June 26 despite arriving with Covid-19 symptoms.

He recommended that the Gauteng department of health take 19 staff members – medical doctors and nursing staff – on a disciplinary hearing for whatever they have done.

Nicole Ncube, a family member of another patient,  said her mother was hospitalised at the hospital where she later died after alleged poor treatment including not being allowed to go to the bathroom and not being given a bed.

"Life has been a mess. It is filled with ups and downs while the doctors continue with their lives. An apology would never be enough for all the pain and lies they have put us through. It will not help me sleep at night," she said.

The 19-year-old said her mother went to the hospital in July because of chronic illness complications and she was given various reasons for the cause of her death. Ncube said she was told her mother died because of a growth on her throat and was also told she died from Covid-19.

"My mother needed a doctor to look at her file and her condition. She should have been given the correct medication and food to eat," she said.

Ncube said she had to move out of the place she was renting with her mother to live with a friend. She said she survives on her university allowance. 

Another woman, whose statement was read at the press conference yesterday where Lethole's family spoke about his death, claimed she had a botched eye surgery which now needs R23,000 to be fixed at a private hospital. She said she cannot afford it because she has been unable to work since losing her sight and her husband is a pensioner.

"St Johns Hospital said they can help me but need a referral letter from Tembisa Hospital. I am losing hope because I do not have the money and I do not have a referral letter," she said.

Nomalanga Mnguni said her father was taken to the hospital last year after a doctor advised he get help for a chronic disease. He died after being put in a Covid-19 ward and she is still unsure about how he died. "They do not care about our loved ones," she said.

Lethole's mother Patricia said her son was not a liar. She said the report is a vindication that what he tweeted health minister Zweli Mkhize about before his death was truly happening at the hospital. 

“But it is now clear that what was going on at Tembisa Hospital was very disturbing. It is possible that these failures of management may still be going on," she said. 

Sibongile Tshabalala from the Treatment Action Campaign said these issues have been going on for years with no end in sight.