Mayor media circus

2014-12-04 00:00

THE media was invited into the hospital room of a child rape survivor until medical officials stepped in.

The bizarre invitation came from the eThekwini Municipality.

Officials confirmed moments before the ­arrival of city mayor James Nxumalo that they hoped the media would be able to visit the 10-year-old Inchanga girl at the R.K. Khan ICU ward — who could not yet speak after sustaining 25 stab wounds and was sexually assaulted just two weeks ago.

Hospital officials told The Witness they were only notified of the high-level visit hours before the arrival of Nxumalo.

But just moments after the mayor arrived at the hospital, he said the “media were not allowed inside” as the child was in a “critical condition” in the intensive care unit.

Nxumalo, who was accompanied by the child’s parents, was asked after he had visited the child whether a media visit could ­“re-victimise” the family. He said: “We were informed by the superintendent that the media would not be allowed to see the child.”

The girl is believed to be hanging onto life, only able to raise her hand to respond to people. No arrests have been made.

“The leadership [of the city] is shocked and the community of Inchanga is angry but ­distraught,” said Nxumalo.

R.K. Khan superintendent Prakash Subban said it was their “concern” that the child and family would be exposed to unnecessary media exposure.

“Our first responsibility is to protect our patients and their families. While the family consented [to the mayor’s visit], we are very sensitive about issues like this and the effects it could have.”

The staff member who told The Witness that they were only informed of the mayor’s visit hours before he arrived, said: “We had very little warning but you can’t deny the ­mayor.”

On Tuesday evening, the eThekwini Metro sent out a press statement titled, “Mayor to comfort 10-year-old girl who was sexually ­assaulted”.

The statement, while condemning the ­attack and acknowledging the 16 Days of Activism Campaign against women and child abuse, read: “The mayor will visit the young girl” and “members of the media are invited to accompany the mayor” yesterday morning.

City spokesperson Thabo Mofokeng ­maintained at the press conference that “we were sensitive to this issue”.

After the press briefing, attended by several television, radio and press journalists and photographers, he also reminded the media not to publish the name of the family.


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