The 16-year-old mother* delivered a healthy baby girl at Rob Ferreira Hospital via caesarean section at the hospital over the weekend. As the young mother recovered from the operation, a woman who allegedly reported to be the girl’s relative came in and asked nurses to hold the baby during visiting hours. Staff say they believe this woman then kidnapped the child.
“According to my daughter, a women came to the hospital during visiting hours and presented herself as my daughter’s sister in law,” said the young mother’s father David Mandlazi in a Department of Health statement. ” The women then convinced the mother that the grandmother of the baby wants to see the new born, but she is somewhere around the hospital. The mother allegedly agreed and handed the child to the suspect who then left with the baby”.
A case has been opened at a local police station. The Mpumalanga Department of Health has also confirmed the incident and released a statement pleading for the public to come forth with any information regarding the case. The Department has also cautioned mothers to be cautious of strangers in the wards.
“The Department would like to urge all mothers who have new born babies to refrain from trusting strangers with their babies,” said the department’s communication directorate. “We would also like to call on the community to please inform the department if they come across any person who claims to have a new baby but was not seen to be pregnant.”
A nurse who was on duty at the time spoke to OurHealth on condition of anonymity. She said nurses did not think to refuse the woman who seemed to know the young woman. Nurses now speculate that this woman may have smuggled the baby out in a bag because no one saw her leave with a child.
“This has never happened in our hospital,” said the nurse. “I honestly don’t understand what went wrong because our security guards are always alert. “
The alleged security incident happened just days after the rape of a health worker at Johannesburg’s Helen Joseph Hospital again thrust the spotlight on hospital security.
Gauteng spends about R150 annually on private security, according to Democratic Alliance provincial Shadow MEC for Health Jack Bloom.
According to the latest Mpumalanga Department of Health annual report, the province spent about R17 million on health facility security in 2012/13.
Vusi Ndlovu recently welcomed the birth of his child at the hospital. He says he does not understand why the woman was not checked upon leaving and wonders why police are not using security footage to try to identify the her.
“I am frustrated with the security guards because they are always sleeping at night and not doing the job that they are paid for,” he told OurHealth. “I am sure someone between the security guards and nurses knows the whereabouts of the child.”
Faith Nkosi recently gave birth at the hospital and says that new mothers in the ward were afraid to close their eyes for fear of whose child could be next.
“If the hospital is failing to protect our babies, how can we put our trust and faith in our health system?” she said. “Next time, I would rather give birth at home than here.”
*Name withheld to protect the identity of the child