- Child transferred to Bokamoso without family consent, it later died
- Body of child still not buried a month later
- Mother demands DNA test, medical records and post-mortem
Francistown High Court Judge Barnabas Nyamadzabo is expected to deliver judgment on Wednesday in a matter in which a mother lodged an urgent application against Nyangabgwe Hospital demanding the release of medical records, post mortem, photo album and a report on what caused the death of her new born child.
The mother, Neo Bentu, also demands an order directing Nyangabgwe Hospital to conduct DNA tests and to release results of tests performed on the body of her child; names of doctors who certified the child dead and hand written notes of the decision to that effect.
According to court documents, Bentu went to Ngangabgwe Hospital on the afternoon of 11th October 2016 to give birth and was immediately induced into labour upon arrival. She states in her founding affidavit that she was under hospital care and monitoring from the 11th to 17th October 2016; “Given my status and medication which was administered on me, I have little recollection, in full, of what transpired during this time, suffice to say that I gave birth to the baby with the help of a cesarean operation, a child who it may appear, may well have been stillborn.” The child, according to Bentu, was transferred to Bokamoso Private Hospital for further medical attention under circumstances she says she cannot explain nor recall. “The circumstances under which the referral was made and the persons who did the referral are not clear to me, and are not facts within my knowledge,” she said, explaining that she was advised of the passing of her child by Ngangabgwe Hospital even though she was never informed of the cause of its death and that it was never given to her for burial.
Bentu said she recalls being called by Bokamoso Hospital at one point, being asked to provide names of the child as they could not locate its body.
Explaining why she lodged the urgent application, Bentu said she need to perform burial rites and certain rituals on herself as mother of deceased, and that she ought to mourn and bury her child in terms of her culture. “It is important for the DNA to be conducted before the body is handed to me as there exist, in my mind, doubt as to whether the body has been properly identified after the call I received from Bokamoso Private Hospital,” she pleaded.
Arguing the case this past Thursday, the Attorney General, on behalf of the Ministry of Health, said the child was born alive at 28 weeks and needed to be connected to the breathing machine as it had immature lungs. “Unfortunately, at that time the hospital’s equipment for the purpose were all occupied to which the delivery team called Princess Marina to have the child accepted there, where the efforts failed for the same reasons of unavailability of equipment,” they stated.
According to the ministry, the medical team assigned to Bentu at Nyangabgwe had informed her of the condition of the child and that it needed further medical attention.
On releasing the medical records, the ministry answered that it was policy that “such medical records shall remain within its facility.” They further stated that they did not have the photo album for the post mortem or its results as there was no post mortem done. The ministry however agreed to provide post mortem and to compile the needed information and provide a comprehensive report- after engagements with Bentu’s lawyer, Martin Dingake.
On conducting DNA tests, the ministry said that while they do not have an issue with Bentu’s desire to have the tests done, it should be her “sole responsibility” to get them done.
Judgment has been reserved for Wednesday 16th November 2016 at Francistown High Court.