CHURCH DEATH: MOTHER’S SUI­CIDE BID

Survives poi­son in after­math of child’s death

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - SI­BONGILE MASHABA si­bongile.mashaba@inl.co.za @smashaba

FI­NAN­CIAL woes and stress brought on by the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing her daugh­ter’s death have driven a woman whose child died at Prophet Mboro’s church to at­tempt sui­cide.

For three weeks, Non­tombi Gwam couldn’t bury the lit­tle girl, who died after be­ing taken to Prophet Paseka “Mboro” Mot­soe­neng’s In­cred­i­ble Hap­pen­ings Min­istries for prayers due to fi­nan­cial con­straints.

The fam­ily hadn’t a penny to trans­port the three-yearold’s body to the East­ern Cape for burial, let alone money to buy a cof­fin and cover other fu­neral ex­penses.

Gwam also had to deal with judg­men­tal peo­ple who seemed to sug­gest it was her fault her daugh­ter died.

By the time they re­ceived do­na­tions for the cof­fin and trans­porta­tion of the body to the East­ern Cape, Gwam had reached her limit, al­legedly tak­ing poi­son on Tues­day, just a day be­fore she was to travel back home for the fu­neral.

The do­na­tions cov­ered only the cof­fin and trans­porta­tion of her lit­tle girl’s body, leav­ing noth­ing for cater­ing, travel costs and other fu­neral ex­penses.

Gwam’s older daugh­ter, Esethu Gwam, and niece, Palesa Th­wala, yes­ter­day con­firmed that she took poi­son on Tues­day night due to high lev­els of stress, and had been at an undis­closed hos­pi­tal ever since.

“We were plan­ning to leave for the East­ern Cape on Wed­nes­day and the burial would have been on Thursday (yes­ter­day) but she took poi­son on Tues­day night,” said Th­wala.

Gwam is on record as say­ing she took her sickly three­year-old child, La­toya, to Mot­soe­neng’s In­cred­i­ble Hap­pen­ings Min­istries in Katle­hong, Ekurhu­leni on De­cem­ber 24 out of “des­per­a­tion for help and prayers”.

She said this was after she was turned away at the Davey­ton Main Clinic the pre­vi­ous day, ac­cus­ing nurses there of re­fus­ing to at­tend to her sick child. But nurses’ union Denosa de­nied that the mother was turned away.

Gwam said she then took the child to a doc­tor and paid R930 for a drip be­cause La­toya was de­hy­drated and had di­ar­rhoea.

Th­wala said yes­ter­day they “will seek med­i­cal ad­vice from the doc­tors first, and if she (Gwam) is fit to travel, then we will take her with to the East­ern Cape to­mor­row if they dis­charge her to­day”.

A vis­i­bly shaken Esethu said the fam­ily had not buried La­toya be­cause they did not have money and their count­less pleas for fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance had fallen on deaf ears.

“We are not rich peo­ple and we need fi­nan­cial help for the fu­neral. Prophet Mboro is pay­ing for the ac­tual fu­neral but we need fi­nances for trans­port­ing the fam­ily to the East­ern Cape, tents and cater­ing,” she said.

Esethu said her mother had been failed by the health sys­tem and the po­lice, which pushed her to at­tempt sui­cide.

“Non­tombi has ex­pe­ri­enced ev­ery mother’s worst night­mare – los­ing a child. Not only that, she and her late daugh­ter La­toya have been failed by the health sys­tem and, to date, jus­tice has not been served,” said a weep­ing Esethu.

“Some TV footage was so ter­ri­ble that my mom re­fused to look at it,” she said, adding that some com­mu­nity mem­bers had be­gun to be­lieve that the en­tire fam­ily did not care about La­toya.

Esethu ac­cused the po­lice of re­fus­ing to open a case of as­sault with in­tent to cause griev­ous bod­ily harm and cul­pa­ble homi­cide against a fe­male para­medic who was dis­patched to the church on Christ­mas Eve. This was after the para­medic al­legedly threw an oxy­gen tank on a stretcher on which La­toya lay in­side the am­bu­lance, and it bounced and hit her foot, caus­ing a frac­ture.

In an affidavit drafted sev­eral days after La­toya’s death, Gwam said an am­bu­lance ar­rived at the church 90 min­utes after the first call was made, and that her baby was still alive.

Gaut­eng po­lice spokesper­son Colonel Lun­gelo Dlamini said La­toya’s post­mortem re­sults were still out­stand­ing.

Mboro, who had ini­tially said he would help the fam­ily only with burial ser­vices, said yes­ter­day that he would cover all the costs of the fu­neral.

He said he still had to pay for le­gal fees for the case the mother has opened against the para­medic and the law­suit over the death of La­toya. Mboro is fac­ing a charge of com­mon as­sault.

Ekurhu­leni Dis­as­ter and Emer­gency Man­age­ment Ser­vices (Dems) spokesper­son Wil­liam Nt­ladi said two paramedics dis­patched to the church had not at­tended to the child.

“Be­fore they could do any­thing, the prophet was al­ready try­ing to load what seemed to be a life­less body in the am­bu­lance. Con­fronta­tion im­me­di­ately started be­tween the crew and the prophet, whereby a fe­male am­bu­lance driver was man­han­dled on scene by the pas­tor, sup­ported by the con­gre­ga­tion,” Nt­ladi said.

Mboro has de­nied this, say­ing the child was alive when she left the church. Po­lice have opened an in­quest docket.

We are not rich peo­ple and we need fi­nan­cial help

PIC­TURES: NH­LANHLA PHILLIPS/ AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY/ANA

Prophet Mboro brief­ing the me­dia at his church in Katle­hong.

Esethu Gwam, the sis­ter of the de­ceased three-year-old.

La­toya Gwam at a doc­tor’s con­sult­ing room a day be­fore she died.

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