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Parent to sue after baby dies in power cut

South Africa

One of the parents whose baby died recently during a power failure at an East London hospital plans to sue the government, SABC reported on Tuesday.

Another parent was seeking legal advice.

Parents of the dead babies were outraged at comments by Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang in Parliament that they would not receive compensation.

She said the babies' deaths was not caused by negligence.

"If it wasn't their fault, why would the premier come to my house?" Leader Boutcher, the mother of one of the babies said.

"Why would the government organise my child's funeral? Why would they pay for my doctors expenses? Itis because it's their fault. They feel guilty."

Four babies in incubators died in May during a power failure at the neo-natal intensive care unit of the Cecilia Makiwane hospital.

Tshabalala-Msimang said the back-up generators did not kick in because the power failure only affected one unit.

The Democratic Alliance said on Tuesday that Tshabalala-Msimang should take responsibility for the deaths.

"Aside from being callous and cold-hearted, this decision completely ignores the fact that negligence appears to have been a major factor in relation to these deaths," DA health spokesperson Dianne Kohler-Barnard said in a statement.

"How many more babies will have to die unnecessarily before the Minister of Health starts to hold those responsible accountable for their deaths?"

Kohler-Barnard said whoever was responsible for ensuring that hospital equipment was protected from power failures needed to be held accountable.

Nurses on duty had not wheeled the incubators holding the babies to another ward with electricity - a major failure on the part of the hospital.

"There is absolutely no doubt that had these deaths occurred in a private hospital, the minister would have been vigorous and loud in her condemnation of the hospital concerned and would not have hesitated to point a finger at those responsible," the statement said.

"But because she is responsible for the public health system, she is turning a blind eye to its failings."

Eastern Cape Health MEC, Nomsa Jajula also said the families would receive no government compensation.

"How can you compensate something you did not plan? We couldn't foresee this happening," Jajula said. - Sapa

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