Shock, anger at doctor's rape

2010-11-01 09:48

Bloemfontein - The news that a doctor was attacked and raped while she was on duty at the Pelonomi hospital in Bloemfontein has been met with shock, disgust and anger.

Fidel Hadebe, spokesperson for Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, described the incident as "barbaric", adding that safety at hospitals is a big concern to him.

The horrific attack could also cause a crisis at the hospital this week, as female doctors are too scared to work here at night.

Doctors have been complaining for some time about the poor security at the hospital.

Even after the attack early on Saturday morning, security was still lacking.

Hit with a brick

The 35-year-old doctor, who is specialising in paediatrics and is very popular with young patients, was heading for the neo-natal unit on the ground floor at about 02:00 on Saturday morning when three men overpowered her on a dark staircase and hit her in the face with a brick.

All three attackers raped her. One of them is only 16.

After the attackers ran off, she made her way to the neo-natal unit where a student doctor helped her to call her husband.

The police's unit against family violence, child abuse and sexual offences arrested the three attackers hours later.

They will appear in the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court on Monday.

Meanwhile, several female doctors have told reporters they are too scared to work at night.

They are, however, not allowed to refuse to work, despite the poor safety at the biggest hospital in the area.

Pelonomi, which mostly serves the poorest of the poor, will be assessed this week to see if it will retain its accreditation as a training hospital.

'Gentle soul'

According to colleagues of the victim, she is one of the friendliest, most competent and hardworking doctors in paediatrics.

"She brought her own TV and DVD player for the young patients to be able to watch TV and DVDs. She is closely involved with the children and has a deep love for them. They are crazy about her."

They said she often started work earlier and worked long after her shift had ended.

"She is really a gentle soul."

Professor André Venter, head of paediatrics, said on Sunday: "Paediatrics is going on. We are aware of the incident and are doing what we can."

Jabu Mbalula, spokesperson for the department of health in the Free State, admitted that safety at Pelonomi is poor.

The department conducted its own investigation into the incident and if necessary, steps will be taken against negligent staff.

Bloemfontein Medi-Clinic spokesperson Amanda Appelgryn confirmed that the doctor was operated on for a fracture to the cheekbone and was discharged on Sunday.