Grieving mom’s trauma

2010-10-01 00:00

THE public service strike led to double tragedy for a woman who gave birth to a stillborn baby at Northdale Hospital during the strike. Her baby’s body was given to another family in error.

A month later, the body of Thembeka Shozi’s baby is yet to be returned to her.

The body was buried by a family only identified as the Hlengwas in the kwaNyuswa area near Botha’s Hill.

Shozi (26) bled profusely during labour on September 2, and her baby was stillborn. She was transferred to Grey’s Hospital for treatment and discharged on Sunday, September 5.

On Septemer 6, she made arrangements to fetch her baby’s body the next day. On the same day a woman whose baby also died at birth, went to fetch her baby for burial, but received the wrong body.

Shozi has enlisted the services of local attorneys to sue the department for pain and trauma.

“I have sleepless nights since this ordeal started. I’m losing weight and I’m getting weaker by the day. I underwent no counselling to deal with the trauma.

“What the hospital did to me hurt so bad that I wouldn’t wish it to happen to my worst enemy,” said Shozi.

She said she last heard from the hospital on September 10 when hospital CEO Mthandeni Ntombela informed her that he would be seeking permission from a magistrate to exhume the body.

“On that day Mr Ntombela gave me R2 000 for isoso (a financial contribution made when there is bereavement).

“I want to bury my baby in dignity so I can also rest. Whoever is responsible for my suffering will pay,” she said.

Ntombela confirmed the incident, stating that both babies were buried by the Hlengwas and preparations are underway to exhume Shozi’s baby.

He said about six identification name tags are attached to the bodies and that investigations are underway to ascertain what happened.

“I only heard on Thursday [September 9] that the Hlengwa baby was still in the mortuary. I tracked them down and explained everything to them. They have since taken their baby and buried it and necessary arrangements have been made to get permission to exhume Shozi’s baby. We have been in contact with all stakeholders involved for the exhumation process since September 13. I am waiting for the exhumation approval by the Local Government MEC,” he said.

An employee at the department said the approval can take a long time to be issued as there are many legalities involved and the application should reach the MEC.

Attorney Mahomed Essa confirmed that Shozi is now his client in a civil case against the KZN Health Department.

“We are working on getting the couple to a psychologist for counselling since it was never done by the hospital,” said Essa.

THE Democratic Alliance (DA) says the impact of the public servants strike ón the healthcare system will be felt in months to come.

DA caucus leader John Steenhuisen said Thembeka Shozi was put through unnecessary trauma and pain due to lack of compassion.

“I’m afraid we don’t know everything about the impact of the strike, a lot is hidden. People who attend public hospitals are the poor from rural areas and are not familiar with the media so they don’t know the importance and how to utilise the media,” said Steenhuisen.

He said thorough investigation needs to be done to establish how the babies were swopped if there were name tags attached to them.

Mary de Haas of the KZN violence monitor said it was unacceptable for Shozi to have to endure such a “double blow”.

“The exhumation process must be fast-tracked because nobody deserves to go through this ordeal. Somebody needs to be held accountable for this and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is not an isolated case,” she said

KZN hospitals have been in the news for all the wrong reasons. In May this year, managers from King Edward, Mahatma Ghandi, Addington and Prince Mshiyeni hospitals were redeployed in what department head Dr Sibongile Zungu said was influenced complaints by a number of patients and members of the public. An investigation had to be launched at Prince Mshiyeni after the body of a baby went missing in January from the hospital’s mortuary.

Health spokesperson Chris Maxon said he had not heard of any similar incidents in hospitals around Pietermaritzburg.

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