Pretoria - The Gauteng Health Department is standing by the findings of a doctor who examined a 3-year-old who had allegedly been raped.
The department said the child had not been sexually abused and therefore she did not need further examination.
The department said the urgent application launched by the child’s aunt to force doctors at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital to examine the child under anaesthesia was simply to paint a bad picture of the service in public hospitals. It said this was also done to paint the doctor who gave her a clean bill of health as an incompetent medical officer.
This followed an urgent application last month in which the child’s aunt told the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, that a doctor at the Mamelodi Regional Hospital twice examined the child for possible rape or sexual assault. On both occasions he found nothing wrong with her, while a private doctor noted signs of either rape or sexual abuse.
The aunt said the state doctor did not even use a rape kit when he examined the child. She feared the child’s father had raped or sexually abused her. The child had told her in childlike language what her father did to her.
The aunt laid a charge against him with the Mamelodi police, but they could not investigate it as a doctor had to examine the child and present a form listing the results.
Judge Hans Fabricius last month ordered the Steve Biko Hospital to examine the child, which was done last week. He ordered the department provide the court with answers as to why the child was not thoroughly examined.
The judge called this “a terrible case” and expressed his concern regarding other children in the same position. But Brian Lekgothoane of the department’s legal department said Dr Michael Lukhazi stood by his findings that the child did not suffer any injuries to her private parts.
It was said that the doctor examined the child visually and no swabs were taken and no rape kit was used, as he could see no injuries.
As the child’s complaints continued, the aunt went back to the doctor for a second time, accompanied by the police. The prognosis remained the same.
A Dr Van der Merwe from a private hospital in Pretoria East examined the child at the aunt’s insistence and found signs of possible rape or sexual abuse, which he had set out in his report. He recommended that a state facility thoroughly examine the child.
The Steve Biko Hospital referred the child back to the Mamelodi hospital, where one of Lukhazi’s colleagues also gave her a clean bill of health.
Lukhazi severely criticised the findings by the private doctor who said the child had, among others, a perforated hymen. “I find it unfortunate that up to this day there are medics who still have an incorrect understanding of a perforated hymen term” he said.
Lukhazi said Van der Merwe’s findings were “illogical and evident of a person who lacks the skill and knowledge of conducting examinations in sexual assault cases”.
He said the staff at his facility were especially trained in these kinds of cases. An examination with the naked eye, which he had done, was sufficient as long as there was sufficient light and the “victim” co-operative.
The child has now been examined by a gynaecologist at Steve Biko Hospital under anaesthesia, as ordered by the court.
“What the examination has done is to create more added confusion to the alleged sexual allegations in that there is a mention of old tears.
“Even after seeing this report, Dr Lukhozi stands by his initial findings,” the department said.