Mother and son’s ordeal ends on streets

2008-07-03 00:00

City residents came to the rescue of a sick woman who they found sitting with her eight-year-old son on a pavement in Church Street on Wednesday evening.

Elizabeth Molefe and her son, who looked hungry and uncared for, were later taken to Loop Street Police Station at about 7 pm in the hope that police could find a safe place for them to spend the cold night.

The woman’s rescuers had noticed her lying on the pavement from about 8 am. She told them that she and her son have nowhere to go.

Molefe, who came from Lesotho to live in a Cramond informal settlement outside Pietermaritzburg more than 10 years ago, told her rescuers that she had been sent away from Northdale Hospital that morning despite feeling sick. She had swollen feet, was coughing non-stop and complained of severe back pains. She said that after the hospital gave her an x-ray, she was told that she was fine and ordered to go home.

"How can a hospital discharge a person who looked so sick? … We tried many times to call an ambulance to take her back to hospital, but we got no help," said Sumaya Shaike, who came to her rescue.

Shaike, who had the papers proving that Molefe was discharged by Northdale Hospital, and other residents, also criticised the ambulance services for failing to respond to several calls to take Molefe back to the hospital.

While waiting for the ambulance to respond, residents gave the mother and her son food.

After failing to get a response from the ambulance service, they called police, who did not respond either.

"A police van drove by and I stopped it. A police officer also tried to call the ambulance, but he left after failing to get a response," said Castalina Letjeloa.

Molefe said she was taken by ambulance to Northdale Hospital after falling sick in Cramond on Tuesday. She and her son had spent a number of nights without shelter after being evicted from a house they used to occupy.

When she arrived from Lesotho, Molefe lived with her son’s father, who died in 2004.

A passer-by, Bhekelakhe Bhengu, said: "I know this woman and the boy from the settlement. I lived next to them for 10 years."

Bhengu, who said there were arrangements to send Molefe back to Lesotho to be with her family after she fell sick, referred The Witness to Molefe’s relative who lives in Haniville, but the relative refused to have anything to do with the mother and son.

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