Shonisani Lethole laid to rest as health ombud investigates claims against Tembisa Hospital

Shonisani Lethole (Shonisani Lethole, Facebook)
Shonisani Lethole (Shonisani Lethole, Facebook)
  • Shonisani Lethole, 35, who died at the Tembisa Hospital after being admitted with breathing difficulties, has been buried in Limpopo.
  • He was tested for Covid-19, but died without receiving his results.
  • While the Health Ombud investigates, his family is adamant they want to start a conversation about the healthcare system in South Africa.

Shonisani Lethole, the man who died at the Tembisa Hospital in Gauteng, after claiming he had been ill-treated and deprived of food for 48 hours, has been laid to rest.

Shonisani was buried in Madombidzha in Limpopo on Wednesday morning, family spokesperson Busi Lethole told News24.

The funeral was initially meant to take place on Friday, but because of Covid-19 regulations for funerals it was decided that he be burried on Wednesday, Busi said.

As the local businessman was being laid to rest, national Department of Health spokesperson Popo Maja told News24 the health ombud was investigating the claims against the Tembisa Hospital.

Maja said Health Minister Zweli Mkhize had requested the ombud to urgently probe the matter.

He added that once the ombud has completed the investigation and publicly released it, the department will comment further on the issue.

Shonisani died at the Tembisa Hospital after being admitted with breathing difficulties.

READ | Covid-19: Heartbreak as dad dies 4 days after beloved wife, the morning of her funeral

Shortly after being admitted, his father, Albert Lethole, said Shonisani had informed them he had been deprived of food and was ill-treated at the hospital.

On Thursday, 25 June, Shonisani tweeted Mkhize, informing him of the treatment at the hospital and that he had not eaten for 48 hours.

Last week, his father, Albert, told News24 they were seeking answers from the hospital and the Department of Health after their son was tested for Covid-19, but died without receiving his results.

"The answers I need from the department is why my son did not eat and why was I only showed the results after he died – and why did the nurse tell me about the cause of death without any paper in the hand to show them.

"Why did my son not eat for 48 hours? He called me to ask for food, why?" the father questioned.

The father also claimed his son was not assisted when he needed to use the bathroom.

Petition

Reports of Shonisani's passing and the allegations that he had been deprived of food led to the hashtag JusticeforShoni on Twitter, with many calling for the hospital to be brought to book and investigated.

An online petition calling for the hospital CEO Lekopane Mogaladi, Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku and Mkhize to probe the circumstances surrounding Shonisani's death, has received more than 17 000 signatures.

The petition is calling for the hospital and department to urgently investigate and identify any failings in the way Shonisani was treated, to make recommendations and provide a report on the progress of implementing those recommendations to the family by 30 July.

A conversation about healthcare

Last Thursday, Masuku visited the family and reassured them that the department was doing everything to get to the bottom of the situation, News24 reported.

Reacting to the investigations and the petition, Busi said all the family wanted was justice for their son, brother and cousin.

"We really want justice being done, not just for Shoni, but for many other people who are not as fortunate as he was in terms of going out to social media. We know that this is not an isolated incident, we know that many other people have spoken up about their horror stories about what happened to them or their loved ones, friends at Tembisa Hospital and other government hospitals," Busi said.

"While we are seeking justice for Shoni, we also want to start the conversation of the healthcare in South Africa, because it is becoming problematic."

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