Death of gang-raped teen denied care at Motherwell NU 11 clinic ‘disappointing, regretful’
The health ombud recommends that a disciplinary hearing be instituted and that the nurses be reported to the South African Nursing Council.
Minister of Health Dr Joe Phaahla. Picture: Jacques Nelles
Health Minister Joe Phaahla has described the death of Zenizole Vena, a 15-year-old girl who died after being denied care at Motherwell NU 11 clinic in the Eastern Cape, as “disappointing” and “regretful”.
This comes after health ombud Professor Taole Mokoena on Tuesday released findings of the investigations into the allegations of a patient denied provision of care at the Motherwell NU 11 Clinic in the Eastern Cape in September last year.
The investigation followed a complaint by the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) shadow minister of health, Michelle Clarke.
According to Colonel Priscilla Naidu, Vena left her home in Motherwell on 17 September 2022 and told her family she was going to attend a school event in Malabar. She never returned home.
On 21 September 2022, just before 7am, a 58-year-old woman found Vena on the street, looking sick and crying.
She had been raped by two men known to her.
The woman took her to the clinic, where she was referred to the police station. When they arrived at the SAPS Motherwell, Vena was crying and appeared to be having an epileptic seizure and was vomiting.
An ambulance was immediately summoned to attend to her.
While waiting for the ambulance, she further suffered alleged epileptic seizures.
She died before the ambulance arrived.
Clinic’s ‘appalling’ service
The “appalling” service Vena received at the clinic was described as the cause of her death and, according to the report, could have been avoided if the nursing staff on duty had acted professionally as required by both the professional ethics conduct and the employer workforce guidelines.
According to the health ombud, no file was opened for the patient, and she was not screened since no vitals signs were recorded.
The protocol for how a patient who has been sexually assaulted, in line with the Adult Primary Care Guideline (APC), was not followed and the clinic staff failed to appropriately refer the patient to the next level of care, according to the report.
This despite the nursing staff’s training on APC.
The health ombud recommended that a disciplinary hearing be instituted and that the nurses be reported to the South African Nursing Council.
“We take seriously, all these negligence and apart from a police investigation, the Eastern Cape Department of Health has already been requested to institute a departmental disciplinary process to ensure those responsible receive appropriate sanctions and the shortcomings that happened are corrected,” said Phaahla.
He also instructed the Nelson Mandela Bay Health District Office to appoint permanent staff, and retrain and mentor staff on the Norms and Standards Operating procedures of Clinics, Batho-pele principles and Professional nursing code of conduct.
“The National Department and Eastern Cape Department of Health will monitor and ensure the District Office speedily implements the recommendations from the Ombud’s report.”