CAPE TOWN - The Stellenbosch Hospital has been accused of negligence and trying to cover up a sexual assault after a 15-year-old girl was allegedly raped in a psychiatric ward.
According to the family spokesperson, Bianca Booysen, the incident happened on September 17, but the family was only informed nine days later.
The Western Cape Health Department has refuted this claiming the incident happened last Thursday.
Booysen said: “The teenager was admitted on September 11 at the hospital after she tried to commit suicide. This past Saturday a doctor called the mother saying there was a sexual incident that took place. A nurse caught another patient raping her daughter and the parents must visit the facility on Monday. Bear in mind the father visited the hospital on Friday but they failed to inform him about the incident. They waited until the next day and made a phone call.”
She said despite being told to visit on Monday the mother forcefully visited the facility on Sunday as she felt it was an urgent matter.
“The mother was able to see her and she confirmed the incident. We don’t understand why someone who was supposed to be on a suicide watch due to mental issues, was left alone.
“To make matters worse, on Monday when we were at the hospital we discovered that the male patient was discharged and that hospital had not reported the incident immediately to police.
“We also learned that a rape kit was not done. We don’t know what they are trying to hide. We are calling for a full investigation against the hospital. The hospital has failed the girl,” she said.
Booysen claims the hospital also attempted to transfer the 15-year-old to Paarl.
Police spokesperson Andrè Traut said: “The alleged rape of a 15-year-old girl is under investigation by the Stellenbosch FCS after the matter was reported to police yesterday (Monday). No one has been arrested yet.”
Provincial health department spokesperson Mark van der Heever said the department would provide the necessary support.
Cape Winelands District spokesperson Sandra Maritz said the department was aware of the incident, saying it happened on the evening of September 23.
“The incident was reported to SAPS for investigation and staff took action to ensure the safety of both individuals concerned, while reaching out to both patients’ families.
“Staff were able to reach the minor’s parents on September 25 and arranged to meet with the family in person. The department is working with SAPS to determine the circumstances around the incident and is committed to ensuring the well-being of its patients. Senior staff will stay in touch with the families and law enforcement. We are also offering support to the individuals concerned,” said Maritz.
Stellenbosch community activist Stephanie Heneke said as mothers they were questioning the safety of the hospital.
“It’s shocking that this happened to someone who was on a suicide watch. You can’t create a private space for a patient who has a problem like that because anything can happen. Being a survivor of sexual abuse myself I visited the family and felt their pain.”
Ilitha Labantu’s Siyabulela Monakali said: “As an organisation that advocates for the rights of women and children we are deeply saddened by the news, incidents of this nature are an indication of the prevalent nature of gender based violence in our society when hospitals ought to be places of safety. The health department needs to do a better job at ensuring the safety of patients at all hospitals and demand that the accused receive the full might of the law.”