Raped in mental hospital

2007-12-10 00:00

A Townhill Hospital patient is pregnant and homeless after she was allegedly raped by a male nurse at the institution in April this year.

The woman (29) says her family have rejected her because of the pregnancy. She currently lives in a place of safety.

Her ordeal took place on the evening of April 12 in the hospital’s North Park ward.

She had just received the news that she was being discharged from hospital. “It was Thursday. I was excited after being told that I was going home the next day. At 10.15 pm, a male nurse on duty that night came into the ward where I was sleeping with my room-mate. He started to touch me, I told him to go away, but he continued and jumped into my bed and forced himself on me.”

The woman said the North Park ward is an open ward where males and females share rooms. Traumatised and in fear, the woman said she could not scream for help.

“I was afraid that if I screamed they would say I have relapsed and send me back to Impala ward.”

The former patient described Impala as a female ward for extreme psychiatric cases, and North Park as a psychotherapy ward for functional patients.

She said the nurse left after raping her, but returned an hour later. “At 11.30, he came back and did the same thing again.”

The following morning the woman was anxious to leave the hospital and so did not report the rape. “I didn’t want to spend another hour there. My transport was ready to take me home.”

After four weeks at home in Stanger on the north coast, she discovered that she was pregnant. At the time she did not know the name of her alleged rapist.

“I knew him as the nurse who worked a particular shift, so I phoned the hospital and traced his name. I did not want the baby and my family would not accept me.”

Rejected and desperate, she came back to Pietermaritzburg. The nurse took her to his house in Elandskop. She also alleges that the man physically abused her and denied her the right to abort the child. “When I told him that I wanted to abort the baby, he became violent and locked me in his room. He hit me and I had cuts on my face from the assaults.”

She said the matter was reported to the police in Durban where she went into hiding.

She laid a rape charge at the Townhill Police Station on Thursday last week. Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram confirmed that a case of rape was opened.

KZN Health Department spokesman Leon Mbangwa also confirmed that the matter was reported to the hospital’s chief executive officer (CEO) on November 30 for the first time and that an investigating officer has been appointed.

Mbangwa said after reporting the matter, the woman went to the hospital to see the CEO on December 4.

Mbangwa has, however, dismissed claims that male and female patients are kept in one ward or room at the hospital.

Living at a place of safety in Pietermaritzburg, the woman is now eight months pregnant and is expecting to deliver her baby on January 15.

sandilez@witness.co.za

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