Minister urges department to implement changes after Shonisani Lethole's death

Public service and administration minister Senzo Mchunu has urged the Gauteng health department to act on the recommendations contained in a report by the ombudsman.
Public service and administration minister Senzo Mchunu has urged the Gauteng health department to act on the recommendations contained in a report by the ombudsman.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

Public service and administration minister Senzo Mchunu has urged the Gauteng health department to implement the recommendations contained in the report by the health ombudsman on the circumstances surrounding the treatment and death of Shonisani Lethole.

Lethole died in Tembisa Hospital on June 29.

After being admitted, Lethole reached out to health minister Zweli Mkhize to complain about the “unbearable” conditions at the hospital and claimed he had not been fed for 48 hours. After his death, an investigation was launched.

The revelations from the report include that Lethole was not declared dead for more than 10 hours until a doctor came in the next day. It says he died of “overwhelming SARS-CoV-2-induced acute respiratory distress syndrome, with multisystem dysfunction compounded by poor and negligent medical care”.

After reading the report, Mchunu called for the Gauteng health department to improve its services and prevent similar incidents.

“The treatment of Mr Lethole is unjustifiable and does not exemplify a professional public service nor reflect the type of service to be rendered to the country’s citizens,” he said.

“Covid-19 has placed an immense strain on the country’s resources, particularly in the health sector. However, the manner in which Mr Lethole was treated is in violation of the constitutional rights afforded to South Africans and is not reflective of the Batho Pele principles which govern the public service.” 

On Thursday Tembisa Hospital CEO Dr Lekopane Mogaladi told TimesLIVE he would review the report.

“Not all staff members were interviewed for the report and they rejected affidavits of patients who were witnesses. It is one-sided,” Mogaladi said.

“Ironically, there were 38 patients in the ward but only one person did not eat.”

The Gauteng health department has committed to implementing the recommendations. It said anyone who seeks to challenge the report would do so independently.

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