By Langa Bodlani MPL, DA Limpopo Spokesperson on Health:
The number of patients who passed away last week in Letaba hospital when the hospital’s generators ran short of diesel during load shedding, cutting off their life support machines, is disputed by a family member of the deceased.
According to Mr. Phillimon Malatji, his niece the late Faith Malatji was also one of the 3 patients who were on life support machines in the ICU of this hospital.
She had been admitted the previous week because of cerebral hemorrhage. The provincial department insists that there was only one death, that of a diabetic patient who was at the ICU. The question is: what about the late Ms. Malatji who was on the same life support machines?
Our public healthcare system should be a model of excellence, empowering South Africans to live healthy and productive lives. There should be nothing less than full accountability for cases of extreme negligence, as witnessed at Letaba Hospital.
The sad thing is that the family only got to learn of the passing of Ms. Malatji through a radio broadcast. No one at the hospital cared to inform the family.
Even more disturbing is that her death certificate says she died due to natural causes, when the family knows full well that she had a cerebral hemorrhage.
The DA has established that there was an unfueled or faulty generator at this hospital. This was also confirmed publicly by Minister Aaron Motsoaledi when he visited this hospital last week.
This corroborates the version the DA obtained from an independent whistleblower who was at the hospital when these deaths occurred.
Curiously, according to Mr. Malatji, the nurse at the hospital, without being questioned, sought to reassure the Malatji family that the death was not caused by load shedding. There are many grey areas in this whole debacle which warrant no less than a fully-fledged investigation. The DA on behalf of the family will do the following:
· Demand from the provincial government that a post mortem be conducted by an independent pathologist to establish the cause and the time of death.
· Assist the Malatji family to access legal recourse to take on the government and ensure that justice is done
· Demand that the provincial government holds the hospital’s officials accountable who are responsible for negligently causing the deaths of these patients.
· Engage in a series of protest actions until the family’s demands are met.
The Limpopo Department of Health is accountable and must put measures in place to ensure that all generators function all the time when needed. Our hospitals must be places where our people get medical help and are not recklessly condemned to death. The DA will do everything in our power to get to the bottom of this matter and ensure that the family of the deceased gets justice.