The death of Khayelitsha resident Tamara Fuzane - after allegedly being assaulted by staff at the Khayelitsha District Hospital three years ago - has prompted Parliament’s select committee on petitions and executive undertakings to conduct an unannounced visit at the facility.

Her mother, Nobuntu, told the Cape Times her ordeal began in 2011 when Tamara went for surgery at Groote Schuur Hospital.

Wheelchair-bound Tamara had a pre-existing condition in 2011 which had required brain surgery. She was placed in a general ward instead of the intensive-care unit and had been discharged without Nobuntu being provided with enough time to arrange transport or clothing.

Her requests for Tamara to stay at the hospital overnight were denied, said Nobuntu.

She said while Tamara was a patient at the Khayelitsha District Hospital, she had sustained marks which suggested they were deliberately inflicted. The hospital had been unable to explain what had happened to her daughter.

Thursday’s visit by the committee revealed staff shortages, firing of senior staff members and patients slumped in chairs almost 24 hours after being admitted.

Nobuntu said she had approached Parliament for intervention after her daughter’s case never reached the courts, but was “discussed in boardrooms”.

She said Tamara had a stroke and was admitted at Tygerberg Hospital before being transferred to the Khayelitsha District Hospital.

“The nurses assaulted her. I was not even allowed to see her. Days later I was asked to identify her at a mortuary and there were no explanations given. 

"I went to lay charges, but the case never went to court but was discussed in boardroom meetings with the hospital’s CEO. It’s painful to know my child died under those circumstances.

“I have pictures to show the bruises on her body. Someone at the hospital needs to take responsibility for what happened that day,” said Nobuntu.

Parliamentary Communication Services’ Felicia Lombard said the committee was yet to table its report on the complaint.

Lombard said staff shortages encountered during the visit were related to the “high number of disciplinary hearings and firing of senior staff members”.

Lombard said Sister Elizabeth Brock, of the hospital management, had told the committee that in the antenatal clinic, the agency responsible for the sourcing of staff sends a different person on a daily basis, which means they have to supervise and train new staff every day and this caused delays in delivering services.

“The hospital is said to face a severe shortage of beds as patients are assisted according to the severity of their illnesses,” Lombard said.

The hospital’s chief executive, Dr Anwar Kharwa, said it becomes challenging over weekends, when the hospital faces a spike in trauma cases relating to violence.

He said the hospital was carrying the burden of patients from surrounding areas such as Mfuleni and Mitchells Plain.

Committee chairperson Dumisani Ximbi said complainants had told the committee that “people merely come here to die”.

“The hospital is failing the people of Khayelitsha."