Patients killed by load shedding

Another family member of one of three patients who allegedly died during a spell of load shedding at the Letaba Hospital in Limpopo has contradicted claims by the health department that only one death can be linked to the power outage.

Merlyne Mabunda of Nkambako Malubane village outside Tzaneen says she is the mother of a 17-year-old boy who was one of three patients who died in the intensive care unit (ICU) of the Letaba Hospital.

She claims her son was admitted to the hospital on 14 June after a heart attack. He was kept on life saving machines until his death on 20 June during a period of load shedding. Apparently the hospital’s generator ran out of diesel the same day.

She told local councillors her son was in the same ward as the late Faith Malatji, whose family earlier claimed died when ICU equipment malfunctioned during the power outage. Malatji was admitted because of cerebral hemorrhage. The provincial health department insists there was only one death during the power cut: that of a diabetic patient.

Meanwhile an urgent meeting with the Limpopo Health MEC, Dr. Phophi Ramathuba is being set up by an opposition party. “We reiterate our stance that no less than a fully-fledged independent investigation is needed. We need justice for the families who were robbed of their loved ones by this criminal negligence. Clearly a disruption of life saving machines is likely to have a fatal effect on patients who rely on them,” reads the statement.

The party’s Limpopo spokesperson on Economic Development & Environment, Health, Public Administration, Public Works & Roads, Langa Bodlani, says: “Up until now the Health Department has shown a total lack of integrity in handling this matter. They have not only tried to mislead the public, they have also left grieving families to hear of the deaths via the radio.”