‘Sui­cide’ ver­dict re­jected


SIX months af­ter an 88-year-old pa­tient died from third de­gree burns af­ter fall­ing into a tub of boil­ing wa­ter at Elim Hos­pi­tal in Lim­popo, an in­ves­ti­ga­tion has con­cluded that she may have com­mit­ted sui­cide and the hos­pi­tal staff who were fired for the in­ci­dent have been re­in­stated.

The find­ings have not been ac­cepted by Mu­jaji Man­ganyi’s fam­ily. She had been ad­mit­ted to the hos­pi­tal for an eye op­er­a­tion.

At the time of her death in Fe­bru­ary, Man­ganyi had been tem­po­rary blind due to the op­er­a­tion. She was, how­ever, left to take a bath on her own.

The re­port was given to the fam­ily on Tues­day.

Man­ganyi’s case is one of the many re­ported cases in Lim­popo’s Vhembe district where neg­li­gence or ail­ing in­fra­struc­ture have been blamed for in­juries and deaths.

In May, while ad­mit­ted at Nkhen­sani Hos­pi­tal in Giyani, 67­year­old Mphe­phu Cha­bal­ala also suf­fered burns in­side the hos­pi­tal and later died.

The fam­ily said Cha­bal­ala was bathing unat­tended when she sus­tained sec­ond de­gree burns.

The pro­vin­cial depart­ment of health de­scribed the in­ci­dents as “un­for­tu­nate sit­u­a­tions” that could not be blamed on hos­pi­tals.

“In the case of Gogo Man­ganyi, ac­cord­ing to our in­ves­ti­ga­tions, there was in no way that the depart­ment could be blamed, her death was an un­for­tu­nate sit­u­a­tion but we can­not dis­close ex­actly what hap­pened. The peo­ple that were fired in re­gard to the in­ci­dent were re­in­stated to work as there was no fault,” spokesper­son Thabiso Tefu said.

The district’s health sys­tem came un­der the spot­light seven years ago when the Per­for­mance As­sess­ment Re­port for the term 2008 to 2010 pub­lished by the Health Sys­tems Trust said only two of Vhembe’s six district hos­pi­tals re­ceived sat­is­fac­tory scores in line with the na­tional stan­dard, namely Mala­mulele and Don­ald Fraser District Hos­pi­tal.

The four oth­ers, Elim, Siloam, Tshilidzini and Nkhen­sani hos­pi­tals, have not im­proved since the re­port was re­leased and the health depart­ment made prom­ises, com­mu­nity mem­bers said.

A pa­tient, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity due to fears of be­ing vic­timised, re­lated her or­deal of when she was ad­mit­ted to Tshilidzini Hos­pi­tal in Au­gust.

“On ar­rival there was no bed for me so I had to sleep on the floor while in pain. My mother brought me a blan­ket to lie on. There was no food and med­i­ca­tion so I had to buy my med­i­ca­tion at the phar­macy. I was so hurt by the con­di­tions at that hos­pi­tal be­cause I did not know what to make of it,” she said.

When asked why pa­tients are sub­jected to dire in­fra­struc­ture, Tefu ad­mit­ted that the depart­ment is faced with an in­fra­struc­ture back­log.

“We are work­ing on th­ese is­sues, but there are is­sues that we are able to fix now such as is­sues of main­te­nance. For now we have to pri­ori­tise to look at what is needed for a hos­pi­tal or clinic to run. We have a panel of con­trac­tors to deal with is­sues of in­fra­struc­ture and ren­o­va­tions and many other is­sues that have to do with the in­fra­struc­ture chal­lenges that we have. We wish that we can fix most of th­ese things but with re­gards to the chal­lenges that we have in terms of fi­nanc­ing, we have to pri­ori­tise,” Tefu said.

He said that is­sues of nurses ill treat­ing pa­tients is dif­fi­cult to re­solve as it in­volves at­ti­tude is­sues but they al­ways rec­om­mend pa­tients re­port th­ese kind of in­ci­dents.

The Man­ganyi fam­ily threat­ened to take le­gal ac­tion against the depart­ment of health.

“Yes­ter­day, we were given the re­port and they ex­plained what hap­pened to her on the day she got burnt. In con­clu­sion they say that she was stressed and she might have com­mit­ted sui­cide. What I can say is the re­port is not tan­gi­ble and we will be con­tact­ing our lawyers on the mat­ter,” grand­son Jabu Man­ganyi said.

He said the fam­ily was meant to re­ceive the re­port two weeks af­ter her death but that did not hap­pen.

“Af­ter run­ning be­hind them ask­ing for the re­port, the fam­ily was called to the hos­pi­tal for a meet­ing re­gard­ing the re­port. When we got there we re­alised that they wanted to give us a ver­bal re­port but we re­fused and in­sisted that we get a writ­ten re­port.”

Man­ganyi said the fam­ily had not been of­fered coun­selling.


PROBED: Elim Hos­pi­tal, where Mu­jaji Man­ganyi, 88, died af­ter fall­ing into a tub of boil­ing wa­ter. A probe con­cluded she might have com­mit­ted sui­cide but her fam­ily is not happy.

MANY QUES­TIONS: The fam­ily ques­tions if Mu­jaji Man­ganyi’s death is a re­sult of sui­cide or ne­glect.

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