Pretoria - A family from Eersterust have been left in total shock and frustration after being left to sift through dirty blood-stained linen and cleaning supplies at the Mamelodi Hospital in an attempt to find the belongings of their loved ones.
According to the family Johannes Januarie, 59, was admitted to the Mamelodi Hospital's casualty ward on January 5 and they were informed a day later on January 6 of his death due to natural causes.
Januarie's ex-wife Althea Jacobs and his sister Jacqueline Januarie then decided to visit the hospital the following day in order to collect his personal belongings, however, this was only the start of their troubles.
The family spokesperson Virginia Keppler, said first the family were left for hours to search through the hospital's admission books for Januarie's name to determine where he was admitted and had died in the hospital, as the staff at the hospital allegedly gave them the runaround.
Keppler said the family were left to literally beg numerous staff members to help them to find the deceased’s cellphone and clothes, and it was only through fear of involvement of the media that one staff member finally offered to look on the hospital's computer system for his name.
"That is when the women discovered he died in casualty and they have now wondered if he even received any medical attention since he was admitted to casualty."
She said the two women were then referred to a room to go and search for his phone and clothes only to find that they had been directed to a cleaning room with dirty laundry, cleaning detergents, mops, buckets and brooms.
There was also a large plastic bag of peoples clothes, which they presumed possibly was the property of other deceased people.
"The women encountered blood everywhere on some bedlinen and they also took pictures following which they were immediately surrounded by security and staff members. A male nurse also tried to intimidate Jacobs by laying his hands on her but she secured her phone in the pocket of her skirt."
Keppler said upon realising the difficult task in front of them and fearing for their safety at having to go through bloodstained dirty linen and possible Covid-19 exposure they opted to leave.
However, she said the women were stopped by a group of about five staff members and security, who locked the casualty gate and demanded they delete the pictures taken.
"Jacobs refused and took out her phone again and snapped a picture of the locked gate and warned the staff that it was unlawful to detain them, but they didn't care even though a man outside was waiting at the casualty gate to be treated."
"When the staff saw that the two women were not going to give up their phones they unlocked the gate and set them free. The ladies said they still want Johannes' clothes because in his culture they have to perform a ritual for his spirit to be laid to rest."
"What these women have been through is inhumane. They are appalled at the behaviour of the staff and said only one doctor tried his best to assist them while he still had to see to patients."
Gauteng Health spokesperson Kwara Kekana said the Mamelodi Hospital had acknowledged the complaint raised by the Januarie family and upon hearing about the incident the management had instituted an investigation into the matter
Kekana said the Januarie family members had indeed come to the hospital requesting their deceased family member’s belongings, but that the hospital had previously made requests to the family for collection of the belongings.
She said the family were led to the room where the clothes were kept at the facility, however, they were unhappy with the storage facility and started taking pictures in the hospital premises, and were requested to refrain from taking pictures.
"The hospital reports that the family became hostile, aggressive and disrupted service delivery hence security had to be called to intervene."
"The department urges everyone who has concerns relating to service delivery or treatment by any staff member, to lodge a complaint through our Quality Assurance Directorate at facility level or provincial level," Kekana added.
She indicated that the hospital had already engaged members of the family for redress this coming week.