Johannesburg - Financial woes and stress brought on by the circumstances surrounding her daughter’s death have driven a woman whose child died at Prophet Mboro’s church to attempt suicide.
For three weeks, Nontombi Gwam couldn’t bury the little girl, who died after being taken to Prophet Paseka “Mboro” Motsoeneng’s Incredible Happenings Ministries for prayers due to financial constraints.
The family hadn’t a penny to transport the three-year-old’s body to the Eastern Cape for burial, let alone money to buy a coffin and cover other funeral expenses.
Gwam also had to deal with judgmental people who seemed to suggest it was her fault her daughter died.
By the time they received donations for the coffin and transportation of the body to the Eastern Cape, Gwam had reached her limit, allegedly taking poison on Tuesday, just a day before she was to travel back home for the funeral.
The donations covered only the coffin and transportation of her little girl’s body, leaving nothing for catering, travel costs and other funeral expenses.
Gwam’s older daughter, Esethu Gwam, and niece, Palesa Thwala, on Thursday confirmed that she took poison on Tuesday night due to high levels of stress, and had been at an undisclosed hospital ever since.
“We were planning to leave for the Eastern Cape on Wednesday and the burial would have been on Thursday but she took poison on Tuesday night,” said Thwala.
Gwam is on record as saying she took her sickly three-year-old child, Latoya, to Motsoeneng’s Incredible Happenings Ministries in Katlehong, Ekurhuleni on December 24 out of “desperation for help and prayers”.
She said this was after she was turned away at the Daveyton Main Clinic the previous day, accusing nurses there of refusing to attend to her sick child. But nurses’ union Denosa denied that the mother was turned away.
Gwam said she then took the child to a doctor and paid R930 for a drip because Latoya was dehydrated and had diarrhoea.
Thwala said on Thursday they “will seek medical advice from the doctors first, and if she (Gwam) is fit to travel, then we will take her with to the Eastern Cape tomorrow if they discharge her today”.
A visibly shaken Esethu said the family had not buried Latoya because they did not have money and their countless pleas for financial assistance had fallen on deaf ears.
“We are not rich people and we need financial help for the funeral. Prophet Mboro is paying for the actual funeral but we need finances for transporting the family to the Eastern Cape, tents and catering,” she said.
Esethu said her mother had been failed by the health system and the police, which pushed her to attempt suicide.
“Nontombi has experienced every mother’s worst nightmare - losing a child. Not only that, she and her late daughter Latoya have been failed by the health system and, to date, justice has not been served,” said a weeping Esethu.
“Some TV footage was so terrible that my mom refused to look at it,” she said, adding that some community members had begun to believe that the entire family did not care about Latoya.
Esethu accused the police of refusing to open a case of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and culpable homicide against a female paramedic who was dispatched to the church on Christmas Eve. This was after the paramedic allegedly threw an oxygen tank on a stretcher on which Latoya lay inside the ambulance, and it bounced and hit her foot, causing a fracture.
In an affidavit drafted several days after Latoya’s death, Gwam said an ambulance arrived at the church 90 minutes after the first call was made, and that her baby was still alive.
Gauteng police spokesperson Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said Latoya’s postmortem results were still outstanding.
Mboro, who had initially said he would help the family only with burial services, said on Thursday that he would cover all the costs of the funeral.
He said he still had to pay for legal fees for the case the mother has opened against the paramedic and the lawsuit over the death of Latoya. Mboro is facing a charge of common assault.
Ekurhuleni Disaster and Emergency Management Services (Dems) spokesperson William Ntladi said two paramedics dispatched to the church had not attended to the child.
“Before they could do anything, the prophet was already trying to load what seemed to be a lifeless body in the ambulance. Confrontation immediately started between the crew and the prophet, whereby a female ambulance driver was manhandled on scene by the pastor, supported by the congregation,” Ntladi said.
Mboro has denied this, saying the child was alive when she left the church. Police have opened an inquest docket.