A petition from a Ntabankulu-based non-governmental organisation requesting the Eastern Cape Department of Health to take action against a male nurse and his co-workers has been shared on social media and collected over 4,000 signatures.
This happened after a young pregnant woman went to the medical facility with her 19-year-old friend because she was in excruciating agony and miscarried. This incident occurred on February 26, 2023, on a Sunday morning. The NGO explains this incident, “The security guards at this facility had to wake up the nurses who were sleeping on duty. The young woman was attended by a male nurse with his two other colleagues.
“The young woman had wrapped herself in a towel, which the male nurse took, and laid the towel in a clinic bed and used as a sheet, he removed the foetus and cleaned her up. During this time, he insulted the young woman accusing her of aborting the pregnancy calling her a criminal and a liar when she rejected his accusation of abortion,” the NGO wrote on their petition.
The male nurse allegedly snatched the 19-year-old girl’s phone by force, took a picture of the foetus, and instructed her to share with her friends so they could witness the effects of having an abortion. The male nurse allegedly put the foetus in a plastic bag and gave it to the young woman, along with the bloody towel he used as a sheet, to take home.
The Eastern Cape Department of Health was made aware of this petition, and as a result, an immediate investigation into allegations of misconduct against the medical professional at the Ntabankulu Community Health Centre was launched.
“Upon receiving the complaint, the department acted swiftly by engaging the patient and the NGO to get the full details of the incident and also to provide all the necessary support to the patient and those involved. Psychosocial support has been provided to both the patient and the 19-year old,” said the Department.
The Eastern Cape MEC for Health Nomakhosazana Meth condemned the alleged incident. “While we have launched an investigation into the matter, we are concerned that such an incident could have happened at our facility.
“Such behaviour is unacceptable and should the allegations be proven to be true, proper disciplinary action will be taken against the official. We cannot afford to have such allegations against the department. Such will not be tolerated,” Meth stated.
The South African National AIDS Council Civil Society Forum (SANAC CSF) called for the expulsion of medical staff from public facilities that abuse patients. According to Khanyisa Dunjwa, the provincial chairperson of SANAC CSF, the healthcare professional broke section 27 (1a) of the South African Constitution, which stipulates unequivocally that everyone has the right to access health care services, including reproductive health.
“He has violated this young woman’s right to dignity. He has tortured her and humiliated her. We are calling for the Department of Health to take action against the healthcare professional and his colleagues. They do not deserve to serve our communities as they acted in a very barbaric manner,” Dunjwa stated.
Patients who experience difficulties while receiving medical care are urged to call the Department’s 24-hour toll-free number 0800032364 for urgent assistance.