The Gauteng Department of Health has stated that it has no intention of challenging the damning report into circumstances surrounding the death of Shonisani Lethole at Tembisa Hospital. Picture: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency(ANA)
The Gauteng Department of Health has stated that it has no intention of challenging the damning report into circumstances surrounding the death of Shonisani Lethole at Tembisa Hospital. Picture: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency(ANA)

Gauteng Health won’t challenge report into Shonisani Lethole’s death at Tembisa Hospital

By Jonisayi Maromo Time of article published Jan 28, 2021

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Pretoria – The Gauteng Department of Health has stated it has no intention of challenging the damning report into circumstances surrounding the death of Shonisani Lethole at Tembisa Hospital.

The department revealed that on Thursday, a day after Health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba released the report.

Gauteng health spokesperson Kwara Kekana said the department, and by extension its facilities which includes Tembisa Hospital, remains committed to implementing the recommendations of the report within the prescripts of the law.

This would be after they had concluded studying the report and its findings, Kekana said.

“Those who have expressed intention to challenge the report will be doing so in their individual capacities. The MEC for Health in Gauteng has already pronounced on the approach of the department as it relates to the report.”

The health ombudsman found that Covid-19 patient Lethole, who died after complaining on social media of being starved at Tembisa hospital, was given substandard and negligent care.

Makgoba found that Lethole, who posted a message to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Twitter asserting he had been starved for more than 48 hours, was in fact not fed for more than 100 hours while at the hospital.

In a scathing report on the state of the institution, Makgoba said it should never have been designated as a Covid-19 hospital.

He recommended disciplinary action be taken against the management team which misled then Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku about the state of the hospital.

Relying on analysis from the IT departments at the department of health and his own office, Makgoba said Mkhize only became aware of Lethole’s tweets after he died.

Several hospital staff lied when they claimed Lethole had in fact been fed, the report found, adding his tweets were substantiated and credible.

“Mr Shonisani Lethole, from all the evidence ... was not offered meals during his first 43 hours, 24 minutes of admission at Tembisa Hospital,” Makgoba said.

He called on the new Gauteng Health MEC, Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi, to urgently appoint an independent forensic firm to determine if the hospital’s leadership, led by chief executive Dr Lekopane Mogaladi, was fit for purpose.

In addition, Makgoba wants a senior medical doctor, a senior nurse and senior legal counsel with experience in medico-legal matters, to form part of the panel that would take action against at least 10 doctors, nurses, a clinical associate and workers flagged as having failed to provide duty of care to Lethole and of also lying under oath, falsifying information and acting improperly.

Lethole was a 34-year-old businessman who reported to the hospital on June 23 last year severely ill, with difficulty breathing and having suffered body weakness for about two days before his admission at the casualty Covid-19 isolation ward. He had Covid-19 pneumonia.

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