Soweto family seeks clarity about son’s death
On the morning of 29 June, 17-year-old Nkosinathi Nyasti left his mother’s house Diepkloof, Soweto to visit his father in Slovoville.
That afternoon Nkosinathi’s mother, Winnie Nyatsi, said she waited for him to arrive following a phone call from his father saying that the boy was on his way home.
He never returned.
“I waited for him to arrive only to find that it was getting late and he had not shown up,” Winnie told OurHealth. “We decided to go to Slovoville to search for him on the following day.”
Winnie asked her daughter, Lindiwe, and neighbour Maria Mbatha to look for Nkosinathi in Slovoville. There, a group of boys pointed thte two women in the direction of Nombuyiselo Ntlonipho, whom they said had seen Nkosinathi collapse.
“I was with other ladies proceeding to the bus stop when we saw the boy collapse,” Ntlonipho said. “We tried to help him not knowing who he was.”
According to Ntlonipho, Nkosinathi’s body was wracked with seizures as paramedics had loaded him into an ambulance bound for Leratong Hospital around 7pm the previous day.
Retracing a son’s last steps
Armed with new information, Lindiwe and Mbatha then went to Leratong Hospital. At the hospital, the pair asked hospital staff if they had admitted Nkosinathi or any unknown patient delivered by ambulance the previous day.
Hospital staff said that while they had admitted no one by Nkosinathi’s name. The women verified that an unnamed patient was not Nkosinathi before checking the hospital mortuary to no avail.
The two women were checking for the boy’s body at the Roodepoort mortuary when Lindiwe’s brother phone to say Nkosinathi had been admitted at Leratong Hospital, according to Lindiwe.
“We want back to Leratong Hospital, where we found him still on a stretcher not even attended to,” Lindiwe said. “I started to questione the staff and put pressure to them to put him in bed.”
Hospital staff reportedly told Lindiwe that they had injected the boy with a sedative to relax him.
“We then ask one of patients was next to Nkosinathi, Mr. Hula, to give us his cell number so that we could contact him,” she added. “(He was) to be our eyes on Nkosinathi since he was unconscious.”
“We left Leratong Hospital very late and that was the last time we saw him alive,” Lindiwe said.
Hospital reportedly seeking legal advice
On 1 July and about two days after Nkosinathi left home to visit his father, Winnie received a call informing her that her son had died. When she arrived at the hospital, she demanded to know what killed her son.
Hospital staff reportedly told her that only a post- mortem would reveal Nkosinathi’s cause of death. She received a call after her son’s funeral to collect the results.
“We were told that the post- mortem results said he died from meningitis, but on his death certificate it is written that the cause of death was ‘unnatural,’” Winnie said. “We asked how it was possible that it could have been meningitis when meningitis is treated as a natural (cause of death).”
“One of the matrons said that if we were not certain about the report, we could go to Legal Aid (South Africa).”
Dr. Jacobson conducted the post mortem and explained that it is possible that head trauma could Nkosinathi could have suffered a severe head trauma, which may have mimicked the symptoms of cerebral meningitis. This could also explain the discrepancy between hospital staff and the post-morteum, according to Jacobson, who refused to give OurHealth his full name.
Leratong Hospital spokesperson Fikile Mbhele said the hosptial had declined to publicly respond to further questions from the Nyatsi family until the hospital had been legally advised.
Provincial chairperson of the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa Simphiwe Gada has also vowed to investigate the Nyatsi family’s claims.