When 19-year-old Thabo Sibiya from Msogwaba arrived at his local clinic at 12.15pm to collect his epilepsy pills, he was allegedly refused treatment because he came “too late.”
Epilepsy is a brain disorder that can cause seizures, violent muscles spasms and loss of consciousness. Epilepsy medicines help prevent seizures.
Severe seizures lasting more than 20 minutes can cause brain damage.
Sibiya says that when he approached the nurse, she called over a clinic clerk, who insulted him.
“Instead of him listening to what I had to say, he started shouting at me,” says Sibiya who adds that the clerk told him to come back for his medication at another time.
“He said ‘your name is Garlic from now on,” Sibiya tells OurHealth. “The minute you enter this facility we will know you by your garlic smell.”
The admin clerk has denied this allegation, saying he only told Thabo to respect the nurses.
Sharon Nobela was in the clinic’s queue at the time. She says that when Sibiya arrived, the nurse had given waiting patients a “a direct order” not to allow more patients to join the queue because she was going to lunch for an hour at 1pm.
When clinic staff goes on lunch, the cleaning staff remains and asks patients to stay outside so that they can clean.
Sibiya’s brother, Sibusiso, says he was shocked.
“Without his treatment, Thabo’s life is a nightmare,” Sibusiso tells OurHealth. “Surely the nurse knows this?”
For Sibiya, living with epilepsy has been difficult. He says dealing with the condition gave him the strength to demand his right to health care and refuse to leave the clinic.
“Being a teenager and living with this condition has been hard,” he says. “I finally said to myself, ‘life is short, why should I let people discriminate me just because I am living with epilepsy?’”