Husband sues MEC over death of wife
During the fifth month of her pregnancy, Nomglobo Elvina Siyatha atarted to experience abdominal pain and arrived at the Michael Mapongwana Clinia in Site B, Khayelitsha, to seek help. It was 9am on January 30, 2005. Thirteen hours later, the baby was stillborn, and Siyatha died. Now her husband, Mlamu Arthur, is suing Western Cape Health MEC Theuns Botha in the Cape High Court for R1.5 million, claiming that clinic staff were grossly negligent.
The driver, of Makaya, Khayelitsha, alleges in court papers that the staff did not offer his wife any assistance and left her in pain on a trolley at the hospital. Mrs Siyatha was a nursing student at the time. She left the clinic to go a nearby private doctor, I Gilexwa, but was also not assisted there, says Siyatha. Eventually she was rushed to Tygerberg Hospital for emergency treatment. But by then it was already too late, he claims.
The baby was stillborn and Mrs Siyatha died as a result of heavy bleeding. Siyathe who is joined in the action by their 21-year-old daughter Noluthando, is also suing Gilexwa.
He is suing in his personal capacity and as the father of their three minor sons, aged 16, 18 and seven. In court papers, he says his wife experienced symptoms associated with placental abruption when placental lining separates from the uterus. However, he says, clinic staff failed to examine her, perform an ultrasound examination or summon medical experts to assist her.
In addition, they did not make urgent arrangements for the delivery of her baby, and condition was exacerbated. She eventually left and sought treatment from Gilexwa in Khayelitsha. There she was still not treated, Siyatha contends. Later that evening she was eventually rushed to Tygerberg Hospital for an emergency delivery. Mrs Siyatha suffered anoxia (a decrease in oxygen levels) and hypovolaemia (a decrease in blood volume). She died at 10pm.
Siyatha is claiming funeral expenses and loss of support. In his responding papers, the MEC admitted that Mrs Siyatha arrived at the clinic between 8.30am and 9am, but denied that she was five months pregnant or that she experienced symptoms or placental abruption. He added that, even she had such symptoms, she would not allow any of the nursing staff to touch her or examine her.
She insisted on seeing a particular doctor, who was not present at the time, he added. The loss suffered was therefore not a result of the clinics negligence, but rather of Mrs Siyatha’s refusal to allow staff to examine her, he alleged.
The MEC added that she had chosen to seek the assistance of a private doctor.