Cape Town - “All we wanted was for him to get help.”
These are the words of a Kayamandi family in Stellenbosch, who say mystery surrounds the discovery of their 61-year-old relative’s body in a ceiling of an isolated area of the Stellenbosch Hospital. He had undergone surgery.
Father of six, Teteteke Gqotsi, was found 13 days after he disappeared from his ward. He was admitted to the hospital on October 5 after he underwent abdominal surgery.
The Western Cape Health Department said a nurse attending to him had gone to get clean linen and Gqontsi had disappeared when she returned. He was found by workers doing renovations at the hospital last Friday.
Yesterday, his brother Christmas Khethwane said: “He could not walk because of the operation they did on him.
"What has shocked us is the discovery of his body in the area where he was found after he had disappeared for almost two weeks. We have not gone to the hospital to determine what exactly happened.
“We have been asked to go to the hospital (today) at 8am to establish what happened and what is going to happen going forward. We are not happy.
"We don’t know where to start because we were under the impression he was safe where he was,” said Khethwane, adding they were struggling with funds for Gqontsi’s burial in the Eastern Cape.
“We received a phone call on October 7 asking us if he was not here at home. We told them that he was at the hospital, but they said he was not there and that he had left. We then rushed to the hospital.
"One of the nurses said the last time she had seen him was around 5.15am. We searched inside and outside the hospital. We then came back with the police the following day, but we found nothing.”
While the department has launched an investigation into how Gqontsi ended up in the ceiling, Khethwane said: “All we want is for the hospital to take responsibility.
"He was under their care when he died. All we wanted was for him to get help. They must contribute to his burial.”
Provincial health spokesperson Mark van der Heever said hospital management had been in contact with the family and would meet them when the autopsy results were available.
"The department conveys its heartfelt condolences to the family of the deceased, and extends our trauma and counselling services to them during this difficult time.
"The family can discuss any other concern or challenge they may have with hospital management.”