All the provincial Department of Health could say was that it would try to ascertain the facts around the allegations made by Laetitia Musiker.
The woman wept uncontrollably as she spoke of her battle to gain access to the hospital, having earlier been phoned and asked to rush there as her mother was dying.
On arrival, Musiker alleged security guards insisted that she joined the queue of visitors. While she battled to convince the security personnel to allow her in, her 84-year-old mother, Joanna Fraetas, died.
“I had just wanted to thank her for everything and that I loved her because she deserved to hear that in her last moments, but I was denied that chance,” said a sobbing Musiker.
She told the Pretoria News she received a call from the hospital at about 10am. Medical staff told her to rush to her mother’s bedside as her state had worsened and she was going to die.
Musiker, 63, dropped everything and drove from Newlands in Pretoria east. She found traffic congestion at the main entrance of the hospital as the 11am visiting period approached. “I saw people driving from the right lane being let into the hospital without a hassle, but when I got there the security guards refused to let me in.
“I explained to them that I had received a call from the intensive care unit that my mother was dying, but they would not hear any of it. Instead they told me to join the long queue.”
She said she begged the security guards to check with the hospital staff, offering the number she had been called from, to ascertain if she was telling the truth or not, but that also was not good enough.
Musiker broke down and wept as she recalled the scene caused by the security guards, whom she said started being abusive and threatened to hit her and confiscate her phone if she took pictures of them.
“As they threatened me, I parked my car on the side and walked inside the hospital where I met the in-house security manager, who told me it was illegal to park where I had. I explained my situation to him and he told me I should go move my car, but we first needed to check at the ICU to see if I was telling the truth about my dying mother. When we got there she was already gone,” she said.
“I knew this was going to happen, but all I wanted was to be there with her. I blame them for taking that moment from me.”
Muskier said the argument with the security guards lasted longer than 45 minutes - time she could have spent with her mother.
What made it more painful for her was that being denied entry at Steve Biko was not the first experience for her. She claimed that the first time was in May when her mother had been admitted after being hit by a car. At the time she was denied entry to check how her mother was doing, she said.
Her mother had developed a flesh-eating infection during that stay, and that was what eventually killed her. “She lay in intensive care for two days before she was taken into a general ward. She got the flesh-eating bacteria from this hospital and that is what has now taken her life,” she said.
Before her mother was admitted to hospital in May, she was a healthy person, Musiker claimed.
“She had never been to a doctor; she had been in perfect health, never taken a pill, not even for a headache. She could outrun me, but when she got here she got the horrible bacteria.”
When Muskier returned to her car after eventually managing to see her mother’s body, she found it clamped. She had to spend more time arguing with security guards, the time she said she could have used to grieve for her mother.