Public Protector's office helps couple at Bara Hospital who claim their twins died due to negligence

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Deputy Public Protector Adv. Kholeka Gcaleka is conducting a walkabout at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.
Deputy Public Protector Adv. Kholeka Gcaleka is conducting a walkabout at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.
Sesona Ngqakamba, News24
  • The Office of the Public Protector has been engaging with staff and patients at various hospitals across the country.
  • Wednesday's visit to Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital resulted in DPP Kholeka Gcaleka bumping into a couple who was frustrated and waiting for answers following the death of their twins. 
  • Gcaleka's office assured the couple it would follow up on the case. 

Deputy Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka's visit to Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital on Wednesday was met with various complaints and concerns from management, staff and patients. 

Among the cases Gcaleka came across during her walkabout was that of Portia Makoa and Sihle Thabethe from Soweto. 

The young couple was waiting for answers outside the gynaecology ward following the death of their premature twins in July. 

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Accompanied by friends and family, the couple were scheduled to meet with the head of the unit at 10:00 to get feedback on a report detailing the circumstances surrounding the death of one of the twins - but by 13:00 they were still waiting outside. 

She has been embarking on oversight visits at public healthcare facilities across the country to assess the state of the system and get first-hand experiences from staff and patients regarding the provision of services.


Nobuhle Thabethe told Gcaleka her sister-in-law, Makoa, was 26-weeks pregnant when she gave birth to twins - one of them had subsequently died and the other was sent to ICU.

The mother was discharged and taken for counselling but when she returned to check on the surviving twin, she could not find her baby and there were no records of what happened, Nobuhle told Gcaleka. 

She said Makoa was then told the second baby had also died.

The couple and their family questioned why they were never informed in time and why the mother had to make an enquiry to find out about the devastating news.

"They said they called her [the mother] and couldn't get hold of her. When we asked for answers on what happened, we didn't get it. The file even got lost and it was found on Thursday. The child died on a Tuesday. We questioned how we could be sure that the child was hers, and so a DNA [test] was done," Nobuhle told Gcaleka and her team.

She added they were still waiting for answers after a report was compiled by the unit, but have been sent from pillar to post.

Nobuhle said she had even stopped going to work as she sought answers for her brother.


Their request to meet with the CEO or top management of the hospital was also unsuccessful. 

"It's negligence from the word go up until the last day. Here is the mother of the babies, she hasn't received closure on what happened."

The family also told Gcaleka a senior doctor, who was meant to assist Makoa on the day, had supposedly been "eating" and interns were on site to deliver the babies.

The family believes she should have not delivered the babies at 26 weeks and if a senior doctor was on site, things would have not turned out the way they did.

ALSO READ | Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital has lowest staff attendance among Gauteng's largest hospitals - DA

"We arrived here at 10:00 for our meeting. They haven't even seen us or said anything to us. Is it fair to the mother and family? Bara is not doing their job and we want answers," Nobuhle said.

Gcaleka moved to instruct acting CEO Dr Steven Mankupane to get in touch with the section head to ensure the couple was assisted. 

After contacting the office, Mankupane said: "The head of the department was aware of the meeting." 

He added there seemed to be a communication breakdown. 


The family was assisted and a representative from the Public Protector's office joined the meeting. 

Gcaleka assured the family her office would take up the matter and monitor its progress.

Patients also flagged the lack of signage at the hospital, which resulted in them getting lost. 

They complained about the waiting periods and lack of sufficient care, causing some of them to walk away without being assisted. 

Mankupane said the hospital welcomed the criticism and feedback from staff and patients. 

"We have learnt a lot from the walkabout. We have picked up areas [and] where there is criticism we have plans to work on that. Some of the issues, there were plans but obviously you need to keep maintaining the plans you have.

"We take all the criticisms that are made positively and I promise the Deputy Public Protector that we will improve and work on the issues that we have picked up as they were raised by respective members of the hospital community as well as people from who came from outside," he added. 

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