Nurse’s harassment claim probed

2010-10-18 14:39

The office of the Eastern Cape’s health MEC has launched a top-level probe into a nurse’s claim that she was sexually assaulted, and then intimidated by fellow workers, at an Mbizana hospital.

This came after the nurse drove some 350km to the department’s head office in Bhisho today to demand a transfer, health department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said.

The nurse had complained to authorities at St Patrick’s Hospital, where the incidents happened, but they had not acted.

He said the nurse reported that she was sexually assaulted in her room in the nurses’ quarters by a porter whom she had asked to help with a minor maintenance job in the room.

She managed to fight the man off, and lodged complaints with both the police and the hospital management.

Though the porter later apologised and offered her R100 as compensation – which she refused – the hospital authorities had taken no action.

Instead, she had been subjected to abuse from other hospital staff, who called on her to drop the criminal complaint.

At one point they had apparently severed the electricity supply to her room.

Kupelo said the nurse turned up today at the department’s Bhisho legal services office, which referred her to the MEC’s office.

“We’ll investigate why the hospital failed to act,” he said. “If this is true, the porter has to be on suspension with immediate effect. We cannot work with people who are accused of such acts.”

And if the hospital managers had indeed failed to act, they would be charged with dereliction of duty.

Kupelo said this would not be the first time department officials had failed to react to a sexual-assault complaint.

Recently the MEC’s office took up the complaint of a woman who was allegedly raped by an ambulance driver between Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth.

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