Africa-Press – South-Africa. Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane has requested a health ombudsman probe into allegations that Gqeberha nurses refused to help an injured rape victim until she went to the police station first, where she eventually ended up dying.
It is alleged that 15-year-old Zenizole Vena, a Grade 9 Woolhope Secondary School pupil, managed to escape from a four-day hostage and rape ordeal and walked to the NU 11 clinic in Motherwell to get help.
Family members claimed she was bleeding and was barely able to walk, but when she arrived at the clinic, nurses reportedly told her to go to the police station first and open a rape case.
It is alleged that they never took her to the police and never contacted the police for her either.
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During the three-kilometre walk to the Motherwell police station, a good Samaritan stopped to help her and wrapped her in a blanket before putting her in a taxi.
Eastern Cape police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu said the teen died after experiencing epileptic seizures while waiting for an ambulance inside the police station.
Police are investigating an inquest and have also opened a rape case.
They are waiting for the results of the post-mortem examination.
“Toxicology specimens were taken and will be sent to the forensic laboratory for analysis. No arrest has been made as yet in relation to the alleged rape and the investigation is continuing,” Naidu said.
The incident happened last Wednesday and Vena was last seen at her home on Saturday, 17 September.
According to the teenager’s family, she left home for a school event in Malabar in the northern part of Gqeberha and asked her family for R50.
Her uncle, Dumisani Vena, who takes care of her, said the family was reeling.
Explaining why no one knew she was missing, he said the teen frequently moved between the homes of her separated parents. She had been living with her father and paternal grandmother for the past two months.
“No one reported her missing because no one suspected anything was wrong,” the uncle said.
“We are planning to sue the Department of Health for negligence which led to the death. We are busy with funeral preparations for this Saturday. After that, we will get legal advice and take action against the Department of Health. Had they cared for my niece, she would still be alive,” he added.
He said group of gangsters, along with the help of a girl, had been terrorising youths in the community. Information indicated that his niece had been lured by a woman who is dating the leader of the gang.
“Word on the street is that this was a normal thing. She brings her female friends to have consensual sex or be raped by her thug boyfriend. We are distraught over what happened.”
“I have been trying to calm people down. My family and I told them to let the law run its course but residents are planning to take the law into their own hands,” he said.
He described his niece as a dedicated pupil who had big dreams. He said:
Meanwhile, the Eastern Cape health department said in a statement: “The department will deal with any shortcomings identified during our investigation and appropriate action will be taken. This includes taking appropriate disciplinary action where recommended.”
It added that a preliminary report from the clinic indicated that the teen had been attended to at the clinic and was found to be clinically stable. She was referred to the police so the incident could be reported and so that related processes could be followed.
Explaining the process that is normally followed in rape cases, the provincial health department said rape incidents must be reported to the police.
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At the police station, a case is opened and a case number with an associated rape kit is issued. The complainant is then taken to the nearest Thuthuzela care centre.
Weighing in on the matter, Mabuyane noted that some healthcare was provided to the teenager.
He called for a thorough investigation.
“It is very sad that a family had to lose a teenage girl under such strange circumstances. Access to quality healthcare services is a right enshrined in the Constitution. This right must always be promoted and protected. Healthcare services must also be rendered in a manner that is fair, that depicts commitment and dedication from everyone involved,” Mabuyane added.
“It is on this basis that I am calling for the health ombudsman to investigate this matter and make recommendations for any corrective action that may be necessary going forward.”