Durban - The mother of Citizen Newspaper journalist Yadhana Jadoo who died on assignment in Egypt on April 25 has described the autopsy report as an absolute disgrace.
Devika Jadoo spoke to The Citizen following the release of the report last week, saying that she was not coping with the results and suspects that something evil may have happened to her daughter.
Jadoo, 34, who was the news editor at The Citizen Newspaper, was in Cairo as a guest of the Egyptian government and the African Journalist Union for a three-week fellowship programme when she passed away.
For seven months her family have been waiting to hear how she passed away.
“Only a mother can know this horrible pain of when your child is hurting. But losing your child to death and not knowing how … that is an indescribable feeling," said Devika.
Last week an autopsy report stated Jadoo died from methyl alcohol poisoning.
The Citizen reported that the prime cause of death could be attributed to methyl alcohol ingestion poisoning, which led to multiple vital organ collapse.
Methyl alcohol is often found in antifreeze, fuel and solvents.
Carine Marks, poison expert and director of the Tygerberg Poison Information Centre in Cape Town told The Citizen : “As little as 10ml can be lethal. In South Africa, methanol is only found in laboratories and not over the counter. It might be she [Jadoo] drank something that contained methanol, or it was slipped into her drink. It tastes just like alcohol."
The report further stated that all criminal suspicions were ruled out.
“This whole autopsy report is an absolute disgrace. First, they said it looked like she was poisoned, then they said she went into a diabetic coma, and now it’s methanol poisoning.
“She was no ordinary journalist. She deserves better than this,” her mother said.
Devika said she was disappointed to have heard about her daughter’s death from Ugandan journalist on the programme, Justin Emedot.
She told The Citizen she received no call from the Egyptian embassy or the African Journalists’ Union.
“Justin had to reach out to us on Facebook. We only found out about her death that afternoon. This does not give us any closure, but gives us more reasons to investigate what happened to Yadhana.”
According to The Citizen Jadoo felt unsafe in the country and was wishing to return home and told her family to contact the Egyptian Embassy in South Africa should they not hear from her within 24 hours.
Jadoo's roommate Ghanaian journalist Gertrude Ankah Nyavi told The Citizen that on the eve of Jadoo's passing she had left her behind to go to town with Emedot.
“We wanted to buy some wine but we couldn’t find a place. So, we decided to go back to the hotel, but before getting an Uber back, Yadhana found someone selling snacks on the side of the road,” Emedot told The Citizen.
Nyavi said Jadoo returned to their hotel room with a Coca-Cola and some snacks. That is when she started complaining about feeling cold, Nyavi said.
“I told her to take a bath to warm up. But she said she would use a hairdryer to warm herself like she normally did at home.
“She went to bed and told me I should keep checking on her. She said if she ran a fever, there was medication in her bag that I should give to her. I stayed up, checking on her, then went to bed around midnight,” Nyavi said.
At around 6 am on April 25 Nyavi said she was woken by Jadoo, who requested her to call a doctor for her.
“She said she was feeling worse. I went to reception and reported that she was sick and they should get a doctor or first aid. But they called the ambulance.
“She was vomiting and said she was struggling to breathe. I took her outside the room and she continued vomiting. She asked to be taken back to the room, and that’s when she started foaming at the mouth. We were cleaning her up and then she started having a seizure.
“Yadhana became weak and was deteriorating very quickly,” Nyavi said.
Once the paramedics arrived, Jadoo was immediately treated in her room before being taken by wheelchair into the ambulance.
Nyavi said she also got into the ambulance with Jadoo.
“They tested her sugar levels and told me they were high. That is all they said. She continued having seizures and paramedics said we had to rush her to the hospital.”
Jadoo was rushed to Palestine Hospital, where she was declared dead. According to the autopsy report, Jadoo died en route to the hospital.
“I had to ask what they meant. I was shocked. Everything happened so quickly,” Nyavi said.
According to the coroner’s report, released shortly after her death, Jadoo’s hair on her head and arms had fallen out and she had blue marks around the eyes and lips.
“[This] indicates that the deceased has ingested a poisonous or toxic substance, which I can ascribe to be the likely cause of death,” read the report by coroner Dr Mai Mounir Shoukry.
According to the final report, her room-mate Nyavi, who was actually with Jadoo until her death, was supposedly two hours away in Alexandria City at the time of the incident.
The final official report also failed to indicate the methanol concentration and quantity ingested by Jadoo, nor the substance that contained the methanol.
“This thing of me not being around when this happened is a total lie. Yadhana and I did everything together. We became like sisters,” said an upset Nyavi.
Another bizarre discrepancy was a preliminary report sent to the family in June this year by the department of international relations and cooperation (Dirco), stating that cause of death was a “diabetic coma and severe hypertension”.
Asked about the preliminary report and for further details on the report, Dirco spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya could not provide comment, referring all matters to the Egyptian embassy.
He also could not clarify the contradiction between the preliminary and final postmortem reports.
“Your questions are best directed to the people or the institution who did the postmortem and the investigators in Egypt,” Mabaya said.
The head of the Press and Information Office at the Egyptian Embassy in South Africa, counsellor Ayman Walash, said he could not comment on the report as it was finalised by the Nasr City prosecution office of the attorney-general.
“No further comments can be added to clarify the postmortem autopsy report. However, the family has the full right to inquire and ask for more details or information regarding the postmortem autopsy report through the relevant authorities.
“Strenuous efforts have been made by the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt in SA and the Egyptian authorities in Cairo to reach all the facts,” Walash added.