A young woman who was rushed to Helen Joseph Hospital in a critically ill condition and died last week cannot be buried until her clothes are retrieved by her grieving mother.
Nqobile Dube took 26-year-old Sichelesile to the hospital, where she was said to have died in a wheelchair in the casualty unit. According to Dube, hospital staff ignored her for more than a day.
She has since been called to the hospital for a meeting, after days of silence, EWN reported on Wednesday.
Dube wants to bury Sichelesile on Friday, but cannot do so until she receives her clothing, for cultural reasons.
The hospital is alleged to have lost the clothes, with DA Gauteng shadow health MEC Jack Bloom detailing in a statement that Dube was called into a room to rummage through a pile of clothes, but could not find her daughter’s belongings.
Dube’s cultural beliefs deem it disrespectful to her family and her ancestors to bury her without the clothing.
“It is unbelievable that the hospital continues to bungle this matter with gross insensitivity to the traumatised family,” Bloom said, adding he was “appalled” by the incident.
“They need to know why the hospital did not make every effort to save Sichelesile’s life, instead of totally ignoring her as she suffered in her wheelchair.”
Bloom said in a statement last week the incident highlighted the alleged neglect many patients experience at the hospital’s casualty unit, “which is grossly overcrowded with patients who can wait days before being admitted to a ward”.
“Instead of assisting the Helen Joseph, the Gauteng health department has dithered in reopening the safe parts of CMJH [Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital] and wasted huge amounts of money in building extra beds in the wrong areas without staff and equipment,” said Bloom.
He said the Covid-19 pandemic further had worsened the patient burden.