How hospital thief gained access to paediatric ward

2015-11-04 17:00


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Durban – A woman who allegedly conned her way into Netcare Umhlanga Hospital’s paediatric unit seemed to have known intimate details about the family she was about to "fleece".

Sources with knowledge of the bizarre incident described how the woman walked through an access-controlled facility into the room where a sick 2-year-old was being kept on October 12.

The incident happened at around 22:00.

News24 understands that the woman, who claimed to be a relative of the family, said she was asked to fetch keys that had been left behind in the toddler's room.

The woman apparently conned the toddler's mother into handing over her cellphone, although it was not clear how exactly she managed this.

"There is more to this story than meets the eye. There is something that that woman wanted on the mother's phone. She was caught with the mother's phone in her hand," said a source.

The hospital's general manger, Marc van Heerden, described the incident as "most unusual", but said there had been no breach of security.

"The woman concerned gained access to the paediatric unit, which is a locked, access-controlled facility, only after being carefully questioned by the on-duty staff.

"The only reason she was permitted access to the unit and the toddler's room was because she provided detailed and convincing information, including the name and personal details of the baby to the staff on duty.

"She claimed she was returning to collect the keys of a close family member of the toddler, who had left it behind during a visit earlier the evening."

Van Heerden said the woman did not glean personal information about the baby from any source in the hospital.

He said the intimate information the woman had, including about the keys, "that a close family member had in fact left behind during an earlier visit to the toddler, further points to her having gotten her information from a source outside the hospital, maybe even from a family member or someone close to the family".

Van Heerden said the woman was arrested before she could leave the hospital.

"Due to the robust security systems of the hospital, as well as the quick action of the baby's mother, the paediatric nursing staff and security personnel of the hospital could stop the woman."

When asked if there had been similar incidents in recent years he said this was the only incident of someone gaining access to their paediatric unit under false pretenses.

"While the security systems of the hospital proved to be effective, we have further refined our already stringent access protocols and will be enforcing these additional security measures strictly in future."

KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Major Thulani Zwane confirmed that a case of theft was being investigated by Durban North SAPS.

"A cellphone was stolen on October 12, 2015. Kelly Gous, 29, was arrested and appeared in the Durban Magistrates' Court on October 14."

Zwane said the case was remanded to November 26.

Read more on:    durban  |  crime

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