Pretoria - Premier David Makhura has undertaken to institute a full-scale investigation into the plight of Ekangala mother Nompumelelo Sibiya, whose premature twins died after birth at Mamelodi Hospital two years ago.
This was after Sibiya bitterly complained that she was ill-treated by nurses at the hospital, who allegedly took away her babies and refused her permission to see them.
The 28-year-old mother said she was subsequently told that her babies had died and were incinerated after she signed a consent form, giving the hospital authority the permission to do so.
Sibiya narrated her ordeal to Makhura during his visit to her home near Bronkhorstspruit on Thursday.
Makhura expressed sympathy to the distraught family, and told them he wanted the allegations of nurses’ negligence to be probed.
“I want to work with the family to reopen this matter. I am going to talk to the MEC for Health (Dr Gwen Ramokgopa). I will instruct her to reopen the inquiry into what happened so that there must be proper answers. If something went wrong at the hospital and there are officials who didn't do their work, they must be held accountable,” Makhura said.
He profusely apologised to the grief-stricken family members, including Sibiya, who wept uncontrollably in his presence.
The family disclosed to Makhura that they desperately needed closure.
Sibiya told Makhura that one of the nurses came after the alleged verbal harassment by fellow nurses and apologised to her.
She said she would have wanted to see the remains of her babies and bury them herself.
Makhura said: “We are here because we treat this as a serious matter. The media are very important in our country. I wouldn't have known if it wasn't for the newspapers. Because the incident happened in a government hospital in our province, in the end I must intervene.”
He said he would appoint independent investigators to probe what happened on that fateful day.
“I also want to know what happened. Why is it so difficult for answers to be given to the families? The family needs to know what happened. We will appoint a full investigation team.
“I will appoint somebody who is independent and that person's work won't be to protect the government, but to make sure that the family have a platform where they can ask those questions,” he said.
He assured them nothing would be left hidden during the investigation.
“I don't represent the officials. I represent the people. I also want to know how can this happen in our hospital. It means there are many other people who are treated like this,” Makhura said. If the matter was brought to him at the time, he would have taken the same action two years ago.
The family also complained that the mother didn't receive proper counselling and Makhura ordered that social workers be assigned to conduct that immediately.
He said he would keep the family abreast of developments, and let them know in a week after formalising his decision to investigate the matter.
The chief executive of Mamelodi Hospital had reportedly said appropriate action would be taken against those implicated if Sibiya's claims proved to be true. Sibiya claimed her babies were alive, but died after the nurses refused to place them in incubators, saying “it would be a waste of time”.