My nightmare toilet trip

By Drum Digital
20 October 2010

No sooner had she returned to her desk than she knew something was terribly wrong. Her private parts burnt like fire and her hands began to shake. What had started out as a simple visit to the toilet at her workplace was about to turn into every woman’s nightmare.

Now, three months later, Maria Mokoena is facing a medical and financial crisis. she’s been unable to work properly, has bills for almost r30 000 in medical expenses, has been in and out of hospital, and her company, Trident steel, has washed its hands of the entire saga.

Drum met Maria (42) in the foyer of the Clinix Botshelong-empilweni Private Hospital in Vosloorus, where she has been admitted for a second time. Dressed in a pale pink nightdress and pink and purple slippers, she’s talking with her cousin and a colleague. In desperation, she has turned to the media for help.

Her sad story starts on the morning of 15 July when, shortly after arriving at 7am at the Germiston office where she works, Maria went to the toilet.

“I work as a clerk in the receiving and collections office, and when I went to the toilet I noticed that the toilet paper had yellow colouring on it. I thought nothing of it,” she says. “Management has often told us verbally that they mark the toilet paper because the employees steal it. so the paper was often stained. I used it and went back to my desk,” she recalls.

A few minutes later she started feeling a burning sensation on her private parts. At first she ignored it, hoping it would go away. But it grew worse – until she broke into a sweat and began to shake.

“At 9 am I asked one of the ladies in the office to lend me her mirror so I could go to the toilet and see what was going on,” Maria says. When she reached the privacy of a cubicle she couldn’t believe her eyes.

“My private parts and the area around them were swollen, red and inflamed and I could even see blisters starting to form. It couldn’t be anything other than the paper because the rash appeared exactly where I’d wiped myself.”

Maria explains that she has very sensitive skin. “I can’t eat certain foods or use scented soaps, and I even react badly to scented bubble bath.”

Maria applied Zam-Buk to the affected area and went back to her desk, hoping that the herbal balm often used on burns, chilblains and cuts would bring her some relief. But things only got worse, so she reported it to her employers and asked to leave to see a doctor.

Read the full article in DRUM of 28 October 2010

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