Pretoria - The Department of Health has asked for more time to conclude the investigation on the infamous chaining of a patient to a bench at Mamelodi Day Hospital.
Martha Marais, 76, was chained to a bench in the waiting area at the hospital in May. A video of the incident went viral, sparking a massive public outcry.
Initially, MEC of Health Dr Bandile Masuku had said the investigation would take 30 days to complete.
But yesterday, head of the department Professor Mkhululi Lukhele pleaded for more time in order to put the matter to bed.
Lukhele said the task had taken a little longer than they anticipated as a result of the complexity of the investigation, as well as the number and availability of witnesses being interviewed.
Although he couldn’t give the specific period of time needed, he said: “The investigation is at the advanced stage. As pronounced by the MEC, the department is doing everything in its power to investigate the matter thoroughly, and once the investigation is concluded, the outcome will be communicated to the stakeholders.”
Five people, including a doctor, a nurse and a security guard were placed on special leave pending investigations.
But according to the Marais family spokesperson, Virginia Keppler, they were not satisfied with the process.
Keppler accused the department of making false promises.
She said Masuku was reneging on his promise to arrange counselling for Marais at her Eersterust home.
“She only received one visit by a psychologist, doctor and nurse, and they also gave her new crutches,” said Keppler.
She said Marais was taken once to the Eersterust Clinic for trauma counselling, but was overwhelmed and couldn’t go back for further attention.
“She’s still very much traumatised and cries a lot. She doesn’t sleep well and doesn’t want to be alone in a room even for a few minutes.”
Keppler said it was so bad that on Monday, when Marais was supposed to go back to the hospital to get her results for tests done during the incident, she broke down and flatly refused to go.
“Clearly the MEC has no regard for the life of this senior citizen, because he himself or his office not once followed up to try to find out about her well-being,” said Keppler.
The family has also laid charges of assault against the department, while the SA Human Rights Commission is assisting them to sue the hospital.
Last week, during a surprise visit to the hospital, Premier David Makhura compared it to the state of a mortuary.
He was reacting to bitter complaints by patients about poor service and a lack of respect from the hospital staff.
Water leaking inside a toilet and allegations of missing patient files were among the barrage of complaints aired to him.
Those who spoke to him also had gripes about long queues, which forced patients to wait for at least three hours before receiving medical attention.