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‘They died because of load shedding’

By Moloko Moloto Time of article published Jun 19, 2015

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Limpopo - Load shedding has allegedly claimed the lives of two patients at a Limpopo hospital.

A witness told The Star that the two patients died on Thursday while they were in the intensive care unit at Letaba Hospital near Tzaneen.

He said the patients died after a generator failed to start when the power went off. The generator had apparently run out of diesel.

“They called an ambulance to take one patient to another hospital but unfortunately they couldn’t save the two other patients,” said the witness, who asked not to be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

Limpopo Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba confirmed that a generator ran out of diesel after load shedding at the hospital at 7pm on Wednesday.

She, however, said only one person died and denied that the death was as a result of load shedding. The person was diabetic and died on the way to ICU.

“He (the patient) died on the way to the ICU. Yes, there was a challenge with the diesel. They were supposed to have 900 litres of diesel but they had 500 litres,” Ramathuba said.

The MEC said the generator had run out of diesel and the hospital was left in the dark.

She said the generator had worked for only three hours during the power outage that night.

The witness and the DA in Limpopo were adamant that two patients had died as a result of load shedding.

He said the nurses, who had tried in vain to resuscitate the two patients, said load shedding had led to their deaths.

They said one of the nurses had cried uncontrollably afterwards. “One nurse cried for more than an hour,” said the source.

He said power was cut at about 7.30pm on Wednesday.

“The generator kicked in immediately. At around 4.30am (yesterday) the generator stopped. At 5.24am the UPS unit also died,” said the source.

The source described the UPS as uninterrupted power supply units that supplied power even after electricity cuts.

He said that after the generator had run out of diesel, the UPS operated for about an hour.

The source said power was restored after 10am on Thursday, when hospital officials replenished the diesel.

“The generator was 100 percent perfect, but without diesel you can do nothing,” the source said.

Ramathuba said she was disappointed that the generator had run out of diesel and was scathing of hospital chief executive Timothy Matodzi.

“The chief executive should have called me, even at 2am, I would have (got) him diesel myself,” said Ramathuba.

DA MPL Langa Bodlani said Ramathuba should ensure all implicated hospital officials, including the chief executive, were held accountable for the two deaths.

“The DA calls for the department to be held criminally liable. It is a crime against humanity and the DA will keep a close eye to ensure all negligent parties are brought to book,” said Bodlani.

“The DA also established that an unfuelled and/or faulty generator is a recurring problem at this hospital as this is the fifth time the same problem occurred.”

Provincial Health Department spokesman Macks Lesufi said on Thursday night the police could not open a case because “the patient had acute diabetes and was not killed by anyone”.

Tzaneen police spokesman Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe said the police were not investigating any case emanating from the hospital.

Ramathuba said she had dispatched officials to the hospital to investigate the matter and she expected a preliminary report on Friday.

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The Star

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