Sunday World

Musina mother dies at home after sole ambulance fails to show up

Family told to get a private ambulance

- By Masoka Dube

A distraught Shoni Maphaha believes that his sister would still be alive had the ambulance and medics responded to their cry for help on time.

Shoni Maphaha, from Nancefield in Musina, Limpopo, said his sister Alucia Maphaha was struggling to breathe on July 4 and when her condition got worse her children called an ambulance. He said they were reportedly told that there were no ambulances at Musina emergency medical services.

Alucia was buried on July 15. “I still can’t believe that my sister is gone because of the negligence of the department of health. I was at my home when I got a call from her children that she had collapsed and was struggling to breathe. My wife and I rushed there and found that indeed she was critical.

“They told me that they had already phoned the ambulance, and we waited for about 40 minutes, but the ambulance did not come. Then I made a follow-up call and the lady I interacted with took all the details and before the end of the conversati­on she told me that there were no ambulances at the station.

“She said the only ambulance that is operating went to Polokwane. She then gave the number of a private ambulance and urged me to call them. As my sister was lying there dying, we were busy trying to find the [private] ambulance as it was our last hope. After an hour we managed to find the private ambulance, but it was too late. The medics confirmed that she was dead,” said Shoni.

In a recorded telephone conversati­on between Maphaha and a female EMS official, she could be heard confirming that there were no ambulances and she urged him to phone the private ambulance.

In another clip that the Sunday World obtained, the health official could be heard giving out contact details of the private ambulance and advising a caller to contact them because there were no ambulances.

One of the local private ambulances companies told this newspaper that they charge R950 to transport a patient from their homes to any local hospital. An employee at the company confirmed that they always assist patients around Musina.

Maphaha said the family was consulting with lawyers on how it could sue the state.

When community members heard how Alucia died, they went to Musina emergency medical services and reportedly found that indeed there was only one ambulance operating, while others were broken down.

Musina local municipali­ty has a population of more than 68 000. The municipali­ty comprises places such as Nancefield, Nancefield extension two, Musina SP, Musina Mine, Musina extension five, Lost City, Bergview East, Bergview West, Mushongovi­lle and SMG Military Base.

One of the residents Tebogo Mabusela confirmed that there was only a single ambulance in the area. “My question is how possible it is for a town that is being turned into a city to afford not to have ambulances, especially during a coronaviru­s time like this?”

When contacted for comment, the provincial health department spokespers­on Neil Shikwamban­a denied the allegation. “There are six ambulances in Musina. All ambulances are not operationa­l at the same time due to vehicles having to go for routine maintenanc­e and repair, breakdowns and staff allocation per ambulance in each shift.

“In the past two weeks, the department engaged intensely with Musina EMS station and Musina communitie­s concerning the matter,” said Shikwamban­a.

When asked about the case of Maphaha who died while waiting for the ambulance, he said the department was investigat­ing to understand exactly why it happened.

I can’t believe my sister died because of the department’s negligence

 ??  ?? Alucia Maphaha from Nancefield in Musina who died while waiting for an ambulance.
Alucia Maphaha from Nancefield in Musina who died while waiting for an ambulance.

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