What was supposed to be a joyful birth experience, soon turned into a nightmare for a grandmother who had to bury her daughter and her granddaughter.
When Maggie Mphahlele started experiencing labour pains on the night of March 10 this year, her mother, Leah, called an ambulance and travelled with her daughter to Lebowakgomo hospital in the Capricorn District of Limpopo, looking forward to welcoming another grandchild.
But the joy soon turned to heartache for Leah, who lost her daughter, and according to her, her grandchild is “still missing”.
Grandmother shares ordeal
The distraught woman has pointed fingers at three hospitals in an interview. “I boarded the ambulance with my pregnant daughter, and she was admitted to Lebowakgomo Hospital on the 10th of March (2022). It was at night, and I had to sleep at the hospital. The following morning, on the 11th, at about 5am, an ambulance took her to Mankweng Hospital to give birth.
“The nurse did not allow me to go with her in the same ambulance. I then went back to Seleteng and on the 13th of March, I arrived at Mankweng hospital by taxi. My daughter was in the intensive care unit (ICU), and she could not communicate. I told her: ‘My daughter, you will survive’,” said Leah.
Nurses were allegedly reluctant to explain to her what happened to Maggie and her baby. “I kept asking, and a nurse rudely disclosed that Maggie gave birth, but she did not. know the whereabouts of her newborn baby. I became more confused and terrified,” she said.
From bad to worse
Maggie was later transferred to Pietersburg Hospital, where her mother was met with more disturbing news. “Nurses and doctors told me there were no signs that she had given birth or that she had been pregnant,” she explained.
Leah continued to visit her daughter in ICU, who was still unable to speak. There was no sign of a baby, and staff clung to their claims that there were no signs of Maggie ever being pregnant or giving birth, she recalled.
On the 26th of March, Leah was called by officials at Lebowakgomo Hospital to come and collect the bodies of Maggie and her grandchild. She went but refused to take the “unknown baby” and only collected Maggie’s body for burial.
“I am in pain and confused because some nurses and doctors said my daughter gave birth at Mankweng Hospital, while some said she delivered inside an ambulance. Some even said there are no signs she ever gave birth,” said Leah.
Truth and justice
She further explained: “All I want is truth and justice. They say she died from chest ailment complications and had high blood pressure. Yet, I had never heard my daughter complaining of such diseases.”
“I want to know where they got this baby from that they say I must bury? Did they steal Maggie’s baby and then silence her? We will not bury this baby until they give me DNA proof,” she declared.
In response to questions from Health-e News, Limpopo Health Department spokesperson Neil Shikwambana gave the following explanation. “Maggie’s cause of death is due to natural causes. She presented herself to Lebowakgomo Hospital to give birth and was referred to Mankweng Hospital as she was a high-risk patient who needed the attention of the obstetrician.”
“She gave birth at Mankweng Hospital but suffered complications after birth and became semi-conscious. The newborn baby had unfortunately already died,” he said.
Maggie’s death explained
Shikwambana explained that further medical examination revealed several health challenges which compelled that she be transferred to Pietersburg Hospital, where she was resuscitated.
“Unfortunately, a day later, she succumbed to her ailments and passed on. The case is now in the hands of the police, allow them space to investigate,” he added.
Maggie’s partner, Nevermind Shirindzi said, “It is only the DNA results which will convince us that the baby indeed belongs to us or not. The Limpopo Department of Health should speed up these DNA processes.”
Limpopo Police spokesperson Lt-Col Malesela Ledwaba confirmed that a case has been opened at Lebowakgomo Police Station after Health-e News provided the case number.
“At the moment, we have opened an inquest into these deaths to determine the cause. If there is any other information that the complainant thinks we are not handling, she or he can come forward. Complainants can also approach station commissioners if they are not satisfied with the investigations,” said Ledwaba. – Health-e News