Family adamant toddler was raped while in isolation at George Mukhari Hospital
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Pretoria – The Gauteng department of health on Monday said the allegations that a two-year-old was raped while in isolation for Covid-19 at the Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital in Pretoria, were being investigated by the hospital and police.
Gauteng health officials initially told African News Agency (ANA) that “the hospital has not been aware of the alleged incident up until now”, an assertion the family called “a naked lie”.
In a second response to the media inquiry by ANA, Kwara Kekana - spokesperson for Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku, said there was a preliminary report on the investigation into the alleged incident.
“The rape allegations were reported to the police at Ga-Rankuwa police station and the hospital is conducting its own investigation and there is a preliminary report on this matter, which has been submitted to the Gauteng health head of department at central office. Further information on the matter can be sourced from SAPS,” said Kekana.
In the second response, Kekana said the hospital had been in “constant contact” with the child’s family, and a scheduled meeting was due to take place.
Kekana assured the community that despite the incident, safety at public hospitals was a priority.
“We hope that the ongoing police and hospital investigations will assist to address this matter and draw it to conclusion. We can assure the community that the hospital will take all the necessary measures to ensure the safety of all community members under our care,” she said.
A family member of the girl told ANA earlier on Monday that the family stood by its claims that the child had been raped at the hospital.
The toddler's aunt, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the child, told ANA in Pretoria:
“The mother and child were referred to the George Mukhari Hospital by the KT Motubatse clinic in Soshanguve on June 15. The nurses at the clinic said since the child was struggling to breathe, she should be taken to George Mukhari Hospital to be tested for coronavirus (Covid-19)."
The aunt said the mother of the child was told by the hospital that the child needed to be isolated as it was suspected she had Covid-19. The mother was told to go home, with staff saying the child would spend the evening in isolation at the hospital.
"The hospital later called in the evening and told the mother that the child was crying painfully. They later called around 11pm and said the child was now sleeping. The hospital staff called again in the morning and told my sister to come and pick up her child because she had been discharged. The hospital said the child had been tested and had tested negative for Covid-19."
The aunt said that when she visited the child, she discovered that the little girl was “not herself”.
“Even when I persisted, she would come to me but you could see she was struggling to walk. She would cry. I saw that there was something wrong with the child. As the mother was changing the nappy, she discovered some white fluid on her private parts. She initially thought it was medication as the child was from hospital. Even the following day, that same whitish fluid was still coming out,” said the aunt.
"In the coming days, the child was refusing to play and was always crying. When the mother decided to check the child closely, she then realised that the child’s parts had been tempered with. One could easily see that there had been a penetration. The child’s father was called and he said the child should be taken to hospital the following day. At the KT Motubatse clinic, the nurse said there was an indication that the child had been molested and the child should be taken back to Dr George Mukhari Hospital.”
She said the family was asked numerous questions and sent from pillar to post by the hospital staff.
“The hospital later called the Ga-Rankuwa police station but the police did not come. I then decided that we go to the police station to fetch the police officers since they were taking their time. When we got to the police station, we were told to wait because the shifts were changing. We were told to just sit down and wait. I enquired why the shifts were changing at 5pm, but every police officer we approached said they were going home. Everyone had an excuse in the police station until a sergeant called Neo decided to help us,” said the aunt.
According to her, the police said they couldn't help the family "with much" because they had been approached "in the evening".
"They said cases of child abuse need the FCS (Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit) unit and that person was not there. That person was called on the phone and it was said they are tired. There were just too many excuses. We were told to go home and that the police would come to us the following day.”
The aunt said the FCS unit did not arrive.
“Even now, two weeks down the line, they have not come. When I went to the station to ask why they were not coming, they said the person was not there. I was referred to different police officers, and would sometimes be told that they are attending to other cases. But those cases had happened after we reported ours. Sometimes I was told they cannot find the case docket,” she said.
The SAPS in Gauteng is yet to respond to an inquiry by African News Agency.