Nurse praised for handing in dead patient's cash

2014-05-30 14:29
Ward operational manager, Alexia Ndlovu, staff nurse Nonhlanhla Dladla, and nursing manager Matron Joyce Webster are pictured in Northdale Hospital in Pietermaritzburg. (Jonathan Burton, The Witness)

Ward operational manager, Alexia Ndlovu, staff nurse Nonhlanhla Dladla, and nursing manager Matron Joyce Webster are pictured in Northdale Hospital in Pietermaritzburg. (Jonathan Burton, The Witness)

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Nalini Naidoo, The Witness

Pietermaritzburg - Northdale Hospital staff nurse Nonhlanhla Dladla could have had it all. The patient had died and no one else knew about the red packet. She peeked inside and was shocked to find piles of R100 banknotes. Never in her life had she seen so much money.

She wasn’t going to touch it, not even to feel the notes, and went rushing to her operational manager, Alexia Ndlovu, to hand over her find.

Dladla said there was no question that she would have kept quiet and walked off with the money.

“I’m not made that way. I’m a helping person and I feel great the way God made me,” she said.

Honesty and integrity

For hospital CEO Felicity du Preez, Dladla stands out as a shining example of a nurse who not only honours her pledge but is living out the core values of Northdale Hospital - honesty and integrity.

The patient and his red packet is an unusual story.

According to Du Preez, the patient cannot be named because of the hospital’s confidentiality clause. He was admitted to hospital last Friday and was asked if he had any valuables to be put away for safekeeping. He replied that he had none.

“He was the only person who knew what he had,” she said.

The patient’s condition did not improve and he died on Monday. His brother and son arrived to collect his belongings and mentioned that he always had a red packet with him. They said he usually slept with it under his pillow. Dladla and Ndlovu helped look for the packet, but without any luck.

Later that day, Dladla was sorting out beds for new patients and pulled out a packet from a locker that was supposed to be empty. Tucked inside and wrapped in folds of plastic was the red packet. She peered inside.


“I got the shock of my life. It was the first time I had seen such a lot of money,” she said.

Dladla went running to her manager, who was just as shocked.

“What worried me was that we had no idea how much there was in the packet. What if we counted R10 000 and the family turned around and said there was more?” Dladla said.

The two nurses carried the packet to security where its contents were counted and amounted to a whopping R45 500.

The 55-year-old unmarried patient had listed his mother as his next of kin. She was contacted, and went to the hospital with his brother and son. They explained that the patient, who in his later years received a grant, lived frugally and always kept money in his red packet. They thought he had about R7 000 and could not believe that it was more than R40 000.

Dladla said what moved her was that the patient’s mother was less bothered about the money and was more overcome by the fact that her son had named her as his next of kin.


Dladla said she had learnt her own values from her mother, Beauty Mnguni.

“She taught me to be grateful for what I have and to always help others. She did not do this by lecturing me but by leading by example.

“She was always helping others and raised all of us on her wages as a cleaner. She lived her life by saving. Today, she runs her own cleaning company in Pinetown.

“I try and live the same way to make my mother proud. She is going to be so happy when she sees me in the newspaper,” said Dladla.

Nursing manager Joyce Webster said that Dladla lived her nurse’s pledge, “to serve humanity and to practise her profession with conscience and with dignity”.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  health  |  good news

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