Whip cracked over newborns stuffed into cardboard boxes at Mahikeng Hospital

A picture on social media shows new born babies in boxes in the neonatal unit instead of incubators. Picture: Social Media.

A picture on social media shows new born babies in boxes in the neonatal unit instead of incubators. Picture: Social Media.

Published May 29, 2023


Johannesburg - The North West Health Department says it will take proper action against those responsible for stuffing newborn babies into boxes instead of placing them in cribs or incubators.

This comes after pictures of babies placed in cardboard boxes went viral on social media, sparking concerns about the condition at the Mahikeng Provincial Hospital.

The Department of Health has been accused of being negligent and inhumane.

Explaining the incident, the department said the babies were put in boxes because there was a shortage of cribs and incubators. It was reported that 56 babies had been delivered, and while four were placed in boxes, others were made to share cribs or incubators.

North West Health MEC Madoda Sambatha said the department had launched an investigation and action would be taken against those responsible.

Sambatha, who made an oversight visit to the hospital, later said: “What actually happened is that on Saturday they delivered 56 babies, and six of them could not be placed in any incubators or cribs because the cribs and indicators that were available only fitted 47. Now of the 47, only four were placed in card boxes.

“The remainder were made to share cribs. Even that incident of making them share cribs is not allowed.”

A spokesperson for the North West Department of Health, Tebogo Lekgethwane, said: “As a matter of urgency, arrangements are being made for additional cribs to be immediately sent to the hospital from a facility that has more, and the CEO is following up on the procurement process that is under way in the hospital for additional incubators and cribs.”

The department said this was the first time it had gone through such an incident and it would institute further investigations into the matter.

Build One South Africa leader Mmusi Maimane is among politicians who slammed the hospital for negligence. “What the North West government is doing is cruel and inhumane.

“How can they place newborn babies into boxes at the Mafikeng Provincial Hospital?

“They have looted all the money for public healthcare and now babies are suffering.

(Premier) Bushy Maape must resign for this,” he said.

The Star