Doctor rape 'could've happened anywhere'

2010-11-03 10:00

Bloemfontein - A statement by a senior manager at Pelonomi hospital that the rape of a doctor on duty at the hospital "could've happened at the Waterfront" or "in her bed", has enraged female doctors.

Professor Sampie Smit, acting head of clinical services at Pelonomi hospital, repeated this comment to Volksblad after making it earlier at a management meeting.

Smit suggested to staff in an email on Monday that they move through the hospital in "pairs", "especially over weekends, at night and in remote parts of the hospital".

"It could just as easily have happened at the Waterfront. Or in her bed. It doesn't make it any worse that it happened in a hospital. It is logical, after all," he said when approached for comment.


Smit also told reporters: "It happened, we did what we could and now we have to pick up the pieces. What will it help now not to come to work?

"Any profession has its risks, it could've happened anywhere."

Female doctors were furious about his "unacceptable" comment on Tuesday.

"He has the same attitude as years ago when it was said that rape victims asked for it," said one doctor.

Doctors even said that the professors and managers who failed to ensure the young doctor's safety, should be held accountable for what happened.

Some of the female doctors at Pelonomi hospital have already obtained legal advice on whether they can be forced to work night shifts in such unsafe conditions. They already emailed the head of paediatrics, Professor André Venter, about these steps.

The fact that no sufficient steps to improve security at the hospital have been taken since the incident three days made the group of student specialists decide together to no longer provide paediatric services to Pelonomi from November 2, stated one of the messages to Venter.

They clearly requested that patients be referred to Universitas hospital for treatment from 16:00. They would be on duty there.

Dr Lebogang Phahladira, president of the national association for medical consultants, gave his support to this decision.

List of problems

The doctors sent a long list of serious problem to Venter. Among these were guards sleeping while on duty and unrestricted access from outside the hospital. There were also daily car break-ins.

The Public Servants Association (PSA) in the Free Sate meanwhile recommended that members not go to work in Pelonomi as safety had not been improved at all. Members who do go to work there had to look after their own safety.

PSA head Gerhard Koorts said on Tuesday evening that he was also informed by a senior medical official at the hospital that one of the new security guards who had been sent there had been sleeping the first night on the job.

The 25 "police reservists" per shift who had been sent by the department were also not helping, as they are not trained security guards. Additionally, no police reservists could be seen on the premises.

Responding to an enquiry about the lack of reservists, Smit said: "It is a big hospital."

"And you (reporters) can't be everywhere to see where they are."