File photo: Boxer Ngwenya/ANA Pictures
DURBAN - It has been more than six months since a KwaMashu man, Msizi Mkhize, 28, died after spending the night in a Phoenix mortuary after a car accident in December 2016.

His family is still in the dark about the cause of his death and why was he declared dead at the accident scene by paramedics when he was not dead.

Duduzile Mkhize, Msizi’s mother, said the provincial department had visited her family on three occasions, but no explanation was given about how he was declared dead.

“I was met with arrogance and given the ‘I don’t care’ attitude by the women who visited us on two occasions.

“They told me that even if my son had survived, he would have remained in a vegetative state because of his injuries.

“That’s not what I’m interested in. All I want is for them to tell me, if my child was critical how did he survive the whole night in the fridge to only die the following afternoon?

“What’s more painful is that we see the paramedic who attended to the scene passing our home to and from work. He stays in the area,” Mkhize said.

Msizi was hit by a car while walking home with a friend in December. After declaring him dead on the scene, paramedics took him to a Phoenix mortuary. The next morning, when his family arrived to view his body, mortuary employees found him breathing.

He was rushed to Mahatma Gandhi Hospital, but died about five hours later.

A private paramedics firm employee, who asked to remain anonymous, said when paramedics arrived at a crash scene they immediately searched for vital signs on the patient.

Evidence

“We connect the monitors. For every patient we declare dead we keep a copy of the ElectroCardiograph (ECG) printout as evidence that we have done electrocardiography, which detects the heartbeat and records the electrical currents associated with heart activity. All paramedics have to do this.

“A paramedic with only basic level training, however, cannot declare a patient dead. It is a paramedic with intermediate or advanced life support training who can make the declaration. That’s why in every ambulance at a scene you find one of the two and sometimes both,” she said.

She added that the level of training of the paramedic who declared Msizi dead should be checked and that it should not be a problem for the department to make that information available.

Naheem Raheman, the attorney representing the Mkhize family, said his firm was experiencing difficulty in getting the relevant medical documents from the department.

“This is always the case with the department.

“At the accident scene, paramedics should have assessed and recorded their observations,” he said.

“In this case, we don’t know how the scene was handled, but we are still working on getting all the documents we need to move forward with the case,” Raheman said.

Dr Reggie Perumal, a forensic pathologist, said postmortem results can determine if Mkhize was killed by the impact of the car.

“As a general statement, it is possible to survive a night in a mortuary refrigerator. But the question is, what was the nature of the injuries? It is for that reason that post-mortem results are crucial in cases like these,” Perumal said.

The health department has not responded to an e-mail sent to them on June28 for comment on the issue.

Daily News