Raped child turned away at hospital

Cape Town - A distraught and angry mother says the Paarl Hospital did not help her four-year-old daughter after she was raped last week – and was told to come in the next day.

And even after the child was seen, says her mother, she was given medication without instructions on how to use it – and one was for an injection, with no needle.

File picture: Andrew Ingram/Independent Media. Credit: INDEPENDENT MEDIA

Her mother says her child was raped last Tuesday. She had left her children in the care of her neighbour in the informal settlement where they live while she went to collect her social grant.

Provincial Department of Health spokesperson Mark van der Heever said the department had apologised for the “regrettable incident” and had asked the hospital to make contact with the mother.

Her daughter was lured away and raped, said the mother. When she got home, she was told her child had been raped. She immediately called the police, who responded within minutes.

When the detective called the Paarl Hospital, he was told the mother should only bring in the child he next day.

“The detective called the doctor and explained that it was a rape case. Because there was no bleeding and her underwear was gone, we were told to come the next day,” said the mother.

She said she was concerned that vital evidence could have been destroyed because her child was not examined promptly. She went back home with her traumatised child and knew she could not wash her because she did not want to tamper with evidence.

“We were supposed to go at eight in the morning (to the hospital) but the detective didn’t show. I had to walk to the police station, where one of the officers took me to the hospital,” she said.

When they got to the hospital, they first had to see a social worker, who counselled herself and the child. Only then did a doctor examine her.

The process took some time and they also waited for more than an hour for her medication.

“I was not given any explanation regarding her condition or told how to apply the medication. One is meant to be injected, but there’s no needle and I was not shown how to do it,” the mother said.

She said she was gripped with fear that her daughter may have contracted HIV.

Post-exposure prophylaxis is given to people who are raped to help prevent HIV.

The antiretrovirals can be administered up to 72 hours after being raped.

Even though the hospital management has contacted her to apologise, the mother says she is not satisfied and fears the worst for her child, and for how strong the case will be.

Van der Heever said: “It is not departmental policy to turn away anyone in need of medical assistance and neither facility management nor the treating doctor was made aware of the alleged incident of the previous afternoon.

“We will contact the mother to assist the department in identifying who the person is who turned them away.”

SAPS spokesperson FC van Wyk confirmed that a 28-year-old had been arrested in the Paarl East area.

“The suspect appeared in the Paarl Magistrate’s Court last week on a charge of rape. This office can confirm that the suspect was assaulted by the community.

“No arrests have been made,” said Van Wyk.

Anyone with information can call Paarl East police station on 021 862 1103.