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Pretoria - A father of three who went through a nightmare ordeal when his newborn son died, followed by the death of his wife a few hours later, is claiming R1 million in damages from the Mpumalanga MEC for Health amid claims that poor care was rendered to his wife and child.
The MEC accepted liability for the damages suffered by Erick Zwane, of Acornhoek village near Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga.
The amount due to him will be determined at a later stage.
Zwane said in papers before the Pretoria High Court that on the night of January 24, 2009, he called an ambulance to take his eight-months’ pregnant wife to the Tintswalo Hospital in Bushbuckridge, as she was complaining of stomach cramps.
As the ambulance took a long time to arrive, a relative drove them to hospital. However, they met the ambulance along the way and Zwane handed his wife to the paramedics who took her to hospital.
He went to the hospital early the next morning to check on his wife and found her on a stretcher.
The nurses took her somewhere, but didn’t tell him where.
A nurse then told him that his wife had given birth the previous evening to a baby boy, but that the child had died three hours after birth.
According to Zwane, he was given no details about his wife’s condition, but was told to come back to the hospital the next day.
He, however, returned that night and could not find his wife. He again returned the next morning to check on her, but he still could not find her.
Zwane said he overheard nurses in the ward telling each other that he was looking for “the lady who died in theatre”. He was then told to take his wife’s bag, which was on the bed she had occupied when she was admitted to hospital.
Without knowing what was happening, Zwane was told to wait for the police. When the officers came they told him his wife had died.
He asked the staff to see his wife in the mortuary, where he found her lying on the floor, covered with a plastic cover.
It was stated in court papers that his wife, Lebogang Sekgobela, was in labour when she arrived at the hospital. The child died a few hours later and the woman started bleeding profusely. She was twice taken to the theatre, where she was operated on.But she died within hours of her baby.
Zwane is blaming his loss on the negligence of the staff at the hospital, whom he said failed to give his wife and child adequate medical treatment.
They also failed to deliver the baby before complications arose, he argued. The senior doctors failed to assist the junior doctors with the delivery or the subsequent operations.
Before agreeing to settle the matter, the staff denied negligence and said the fact that certain procedures - such as the delivery and the operations were not successful - did not constitute negligence on their part.
According to the hospital notes, the woman was in labour when she arrived and the heart beat of the baby was normal.
The next note in the hospital file was made more than nine hours later. It was recorded that the baby was born 15 minutes later.
Zwane said he suffered severe shock, trauma and depression as a result of his loss.
He said he was left confused while at hospital, as nobody told him what had happened to his wife and child. At the time he was under the impression that his wife was going to be admitted for observation. He had no idea it would result in both deaths.
According to him, one of his sons keeps on asking when his mother will return from hospital and he has no idea what to tell the child.
He blames himself for insisting that she go to hospital that day.