'I almost lost the baby due to protest action' - Free State mom

2018-02-07 12:17
Protest action in QwaQwa in the Free State. (Supplied)

Protest action in QwaQwa in the Free State. (Supplied)

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QwaQwa – The Free State health department says protest action in QwaQwa, where residents barricaded roads with burning tyres and rocks, has affected the health care services.  

Read: Protesters barricade roads in QwaQwa with burning tyres and rocks

Provincial health spokesperson Mondli Mvambi said they had received information that there would be a shutdown in QwaQwa on Tuesday. 

However, while protest action was taking place, a woman who was in labour needed to be rushed to hospital. 

The barricaded roads prevented the emergency medical services from transporting Rachel Tsotetsi, 32, by road, Mvambi said. 

"Our EMS helicopter was dispatched to Tebang Clinic for an emergency referral of a foetal distress patient who needed to go to theatre at Manapo Hospital," he said. "The child had an umbilical cord around her neck."

Tsotetsi was then airlifted from the clinic and rushed into the labour ward at Mofumahadi Manapo Mopeli Regional Hospital, where she delivered a healthy 4.1kg baby girl.

"We are very proud of this work as this baby and mother could have died if we waited another minute longer," Mvambi said.

He added that about 70 people had also been treated for rubber bullet bruises.

'I thought I was going to lose my child'

Speaking to News24 in a telephonic interview on Tuesday, Tsotetsi said she thought she was going to lose her baby. 

"I was so scared, we could not go to the hospital because the roads were blocked – I thought I was going to lose my child," she said.

"I am happy that we are both healthy, but I almost lost the baby due to protest action."

News24 reported on Tuesday that protesters in QwaQwa had barricaded roads with burning tyres and rocks. 

"Yoh! QwaQwa is burning this morning and no cars are moving. All the shops are closed and there is no business today," Peter Khumalo of the South African Communist Party (SACP) in the Free State told News24. 

Khumalo said protesters were complaining about a lack of electricity.

"Other areas have no electricity, and we as the community are making a call that the mayor [Vusimusi Tshabalala] must vacate his office, because he is using the funds," Khumalo added.

He said there had been no service delivery in the area ever since Tshabalala became mayor. Khumalo has also accused Tshabalala of illegally employing 500 workers.

"No procedure was followed and there were no interviews whatsoever."

'Protesters must not destroy public infrastructure'

Tshabalala's spokesperson Kedibone Sentle, in a statement on Wednesday, encouraged "any member of community to lay charges against the accused in order to allow the law to take its course, without the actions of other residents interrupting any other public services that assist the vast majority of [the] community". 

Sentle said the police had also been called to deal with the looting and vandalism during the protests.

"We urge communities to demonstrate, communicate and solve their dissatisfaction in an amicable manner."

Meanwhile, Health MEC Butana Komphela said they had been monitoring the protest since Monday. 

Komphela appealed to protesters not to harm anyone or endanger lives, or to interfere with health service personnel.

"The protesters must not destroy public infrastructure, because it will be too costly and cause suffering to the communities whilst this infrastructure is being repaired."

Read more on:    bloemfontein  |  service delivery  |  protests  |  healthcare

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