Protector probes health MEC

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Johannesburg - The Public Protector is investigating the KwaZulu-Natal health MEC for commandeering a helicopter, the Sunday Tribune reports.

MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo commandeered the province's only emergency helicopter in November to attend a funeral in the town of Hlabisa.

His actions meant the helicopter was not available to take a critically injured teenager to hospital.

Asheen Maharaj, 15, was left brain dead following a car crash near Pinetown. His parents, Ashnee and Ashwin, and sister Asheena, were killed. Asheen died a week later.

Dhlomo blamed paramedics for not taking Maharaj to the nearest hospital, while Dhlomo was criticised for using the helicopter that could have saved Maharaj's life.

“The boy was in a bad way and we had done everything we could for him,” the paramedic who treated him, and did not want to be named, was quoted as saying in the Sunday Tribute at the time.

“Taking him immediately to Inkosi Albert Luthuli (hospital in Durban) would have helped his chances of survival.”

“The road trip takes more than half an hour. We wanted to get him there as soon as possible, so we called for the helicopter. We were told it was not available because the health MEC was using it, but they would send the air ambulance from Richards Bay.”

Maharaj was taken to hospital by road because the Richards Bay helicopter would have taken an hour to arrive.

Dhlomo told the newspaper he was a medical doctor and could use the helicopter as he saw fit. - Sapa


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