No closure 3 years after father’s death

No closure 3 years after father’s deathVan der Nest's daughter, Nicole Cunningham, has launched her own investigation into her father's death

A Johannesburg woman is struggling to find closure three years after her father died a a Tembisa Hospital following an attack.

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Nicole says the family was not contacted despite her father having things that could be used to positively identify him when he was admitted. (File photo)

Nicole Cunningham’s father, Johannes van der Nest, was taken into the hospital emergency room in March 2014. He was not identified at the time, but was found to have suffered serious head injuries.

It was later discovered that he had been watching rugby at a local pub and was attacked by unknown assailants while walking home. A confused Van der Nest was found by a neighbour, who called an ambulance, which took the injured man to the hospital.

Van der Nest three days later in hospital, leaving his family questioning why it took time for him to be identified, why no arrests have been made and what happened to him between the time he was admitted and the day he passed away.

Hospital records

Hospital records obtained by the family show that the only entries in his patient file were made on the day he was admitted and the day he died.

Cunningham, who is a lecturer at a Johannesburg university, has also questioned why immediate intervention was not put in place when the results of a CT scan came back showing he had suffered a severe head trauma.

I feel disappointed that I couldn’t obtain justice for my father from either the person who attacked him and subsequently caused his death and because of the treatment he received.

She met with the management and medical staff at the hospital in July 2014 to figure out what treatment plan was followed and what the hospital’s efforts were in identifying her father’s family. According to her, the family was not contacted despite her father having things that could be used to positively identify him when he was admitted.

In 2015 she escalated the matter to the then Gauteng MEC for Health Qedani Mahlangu in the belief that she was not receiving adequate help with the case.

Disappointed

She also laid complaints with the South African Nursing Council (SANC) and the HPCSA. In October 2015 the SANC said they found no wrong doing on the nursing staff’s side. The HPCSA complaint was finalised in June 2016.

Both of these are of little comfort to Cunningham who describes the entire process as a letdown.

“I feel disappointed that I couldn’t obtain justice for my father from either the person who attacked him and subsequently caused his death and because of the treatment he received,” she said.

Captain Lesibane Molokomme, spokesperson for the Norkem Park Police Station said the case is still under investigation, but no suspects had ever been identified and no witnesses had been found. 

 He added that Cunningham was personally interviewed by the branch’s commander and the investigating officer in February this year and would be updated should any further progress be made.