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More families share horrific stories of how they lost loved ones at Tembisa Hospital

Tembisa Hospital has been in the news lately following a report into the death of Shonisani Lethole at the facility. Picture: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency(ANA)

Tembisa Hospital has been in the news lately following a report into the death of Shonisani Lethole at the facility. Picture: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Jan 29, 2021


Johannesburg - Six families have come forward to share their horrific experiences of Tembisa Hospital and how they lost their loved ones.

This comes after the Health Ombudsman, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, delivered a report on the circumstances of Shonisani Lethole’s death. His death sent shock waves through the country after he sent a tweet to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, saying he was not fed for 48 hours at the public facility.

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His parents, Vhahangwele and Albert Lethole, said the past seven months had been hard and that not knowing what had really happened to their son had been even more difficult.

“With the publication of the ombud’s report, we finally know how and when he died. We are grateful to Prof Makgoba...”

The family expressed gratitude to Mkhize for helping them win their first battle in discovering the truth.

“Justice for our family is finally within reach. We must finish the job, and that means fixing Tembisa Hospital now.”

The #JusticeForShoni and #FixTembisaHospitalNow campaigns have since been established, with an objective to ensure transparency and accountability. The goal is to improve Tembisa Hospital.

Nomalanga Mnguni said her father was taken to the hospital on July 5, after a doctor in Alexandra discovered that his blood pressure was abnormally high. Upon arrival, he was taken to a Covid-19 ward. The doctor who transferred her father had never said anything about Covid-19 symptoms.

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She said a back-and-forth battle with the nurses followed as she unsuccessfully tried to get a daily update on her father’s condition.

Mnguni said she was phoned on July 7 at 9pm and told to rush to the hospital. She saw her father covered in the blanket she had brought for him.

“I knew then he had passed on, even before I met the doctor. As I stood in the ward, I saw patients crying and being injected. When the staff noticed me, they escorted me out of the ward and finally broke the news of my father’s death.”

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Busisiwe Twala said nurses at the hospital victimised her for dating a Coloured man and told her that her file was lost when she went for her scheduled Caesarean section on June 20.

“I remember my mom asking her very politely to get a doctor for me because I was having twins. The nurse turned to my mom and asked: ‘Are you a nurse?’ She said the file didn’t say anything about twins and that there was nothing she could do.”

Twala said she was made to wait in the waiting room from 11.55am until 6pm, which was when she started screaming from the pain and pushed out the first baby. She struggled to push out the other twin.

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“A few minutes later a doctor came in to help. There was a faint heartbeat. He told me to push ... I was informed that I could not be taken to the theatre as they were never notified about me or my condition. The doctor continued to pull the baby but it was in breech position – legs first.

“He kept trying but, in the end, he turned to the nurses and said: ‘The baby is dead’.”


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