by Thekwane Bongi Mpisholo
Its been two weeks since the stabbing of a 26 year old lesbian from Vosloorus township, yet service providers keep failing the survivor over and over, like one more trauma after another. It begs the question, what would anyone faced with this situation do?
Tuesday 21 August 2013 morning came Mahlatse ‘Sweeto’ Makgai went to Natalspruit Hospital, for her 10 day appointment to have her cast removed.
To her surprise, when they searched for her file, it was missing.
In fact, there are protocols – and what’s more, patients have the legal right to see their own files too. She left the hospital that day hoping the file would be found by the following day, when she met with the doctor who had stitched her.
Instead, the clerk on duty that day told her the same thing she was told the previous day, that her file was missing and that there was no way she would be allowed to search for it personally.
She then decided to go to the first doctor who attended to her.
All the doctor said was that he unfortunately could not help her, without a file in her name.
She pleaded with him, stating the importance of the J88 form to be filled out. Around 19:30 the doctor told Mahlatse that he was going for a break and could only attend to her at 20:30.
Despite Sweeto leaving in a bad state and crying at the same time, she took the numbers given to her, with the intention of calling to enquire about her lost file.
The doctor also said that, even if her file was found, he would not be around that week to assist her because he was going away to a conference.
At this point there were other activists she was relying on for moral and emotional support. The whole process was taking a toll on her and she felt drained and isolated.
Thursday 23 August 2013: Frustrated from the previous day’s ordeal, she tried to call the hospital complaints helpline, but that was another disappointment on its own, the phone kept ringing with no answer.
During the day at 13:40 she went to visit the police officer in charge of her case; little did she know that still more bad news awaited her there.
What she heard further dampened her spirit, she was told that the case against her attacker had been dropped.
She was shocked at the news, because there hadn’t even been a call to notify her as the complainant, about the decisions that were made, those taken in her absence.
Service delivery in government hospitals and police stations seems to be getting worse over the years. Whatever is being done to improve it seems to be in vain.
One of the hospital staff members said that files get lost all the time therefore it was no surprise that her file had vanished too.
What is the protocol for doctors who are absent?
Who attends to their patients during that period?
Sweeto is a woman who has the right to proper service care.
At this point it is obvious that Lulu Xingwana is aware of the hate crime pandemic that is growing rapidly.
Unfortunately visiting families after their loved ones are dead, is not resolving the matter or making it better. What these members of Parliament seem to be doing is just mentioning hate crime in passing to advocate votes.
There appears to be a demon in all the Public Hospitals that feeds on patient files and no exorcist is brought in to solve the crisis.
Will Sweeto’s case be another one that goes down memory lane as an unsolved case?
What does it take for one to be taken seriously after being attacked?
What are the principles of the medical field, if a doctor can attend to a patient and not fill his name and signature (as those are very vital for any patient since it is standard)?
What gives a policeman the right to judge which complainant is worth being attended to and who is to be ignored?
Are hospitals not aware of files that go missing repeatedly?
Did she have to die to show how delicate the matter is?
Then again, that would not help, as the killers of Duduzile Zozo have not been brought to justice.
This is one of the many reasons why women refuse to report such cases, because they refuse to deal with being attacked and being treated badly by the incompetent service providers who do not take their work seriously.
To them people are just numbers that they will give to Statistics SA whenever asked to report back on the work they have done.
We would like to thank Ihawu (Thokoza) and the Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW) for giving the survivor emotional support.
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