Frantic search for relatives after hunt for birds to eat ends tragically
A critically injured young boy is fighting for his life in hospital after plunging four storeys from a Port Elizabeth nurses’ residence while catching pigeons for food.
A desperate search is now on to find the parents or other family of the 11-year-old boy, who told nurses his name was Luvuyo Makhala, before slipping into a coma.
Luvuyo was found outside the Dora Nginza Hospital nurses’ home early on Monday, after his horror fall from the building, close to a fourth-floor balcony.
He sustained multiple serious injuries.
Brenhan Metune, the head of Emergency Medical Services in Nelson Mandela Bay, said they had been notified about the accident at about 1am on Monday.
The badly injured Luvuyo had been unconscious and had stopped breathing by the time they reached him.
Although the circumstances around his fall were still sketchy, bystanders had told ambulance personnel that Luvuyo had fallen from the fourth floor, next to the balcony.
They had also been told that young boys from Missionvale would trespass on the hospital premises to look for pigeons and their nests, which were usually on the top-floor balconies of the nurses’ home.
Metune said Luvuyo had to be resuscitated at Dora Nginza before being transferred to Livingstone Hospital.
He said when Luvuyo regained consciousness, the terrified child would not let go of the paramedic who was helping him.
Livingstone social worker Neliswa Siwisa said Luvuyo had been conscious for long enough to tell nurses what his name was after he arrived at the emergency unit.
“It has been two days and nobody has even come to look for him,” Siwisa said.
“Now he can’t talk anymore. He is in a critical condition. “We are desperately trying to find this child’s family.”
Dora Nginza social worker Pamela Rubushe – who immediately recognised Luvuyo from a photograph of him in the ICU – said he had been brought to her last year after being nabbed catching pigeons at the nurses’ home.
“There is a hole in the fence on Spondo Road that has been there since construction [work] started,” she said.
“These boys climb through that hole and run to the nurses’ home, about 800 metres from the fence.
“They climb up those balconies with plastic bags in their hands. They then put the birds in the plastic bags.
“They are small boys, so the security [guards] never think that they are there to steal the birds.”
Rubushe said when Luvuyo was brought to her last year, she had told him he would be in big trouble if he was caught again. His two friends had run away. “I told him what he was doing was wrong,” she said.
“He told me they ate the pigeons and if they had [any] left, they sold them.
“I phoned security afterwards [and told them] to keep an eye out for the boys.
“He [Luvuyo] was even using my name to get into the hospital. I told him not to do anything like this again. I think older people are sending them to steal these birds.
“Some people in Missionvale keep pigeons in their yards like other people keep chickens.
“Adults are using them [boys] because they are small children. They think that they will not get into trouble. “I am really shocked.” Rubushe said an adult had never been seen with the boys.
“He [Luvuyo] didn’t look like a street child to me,” she said.
“He was clean. He didn’t look like he was living on the street. “It is very sad he was injured so badly.” The area where Luvuyo fell is on a side of the nurses’ home where there is no lighting.
A wall of the building has partially collapsed and an open wooden door was swinging in the wind yesterday. No security guards were present. Provincial health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo appealed to residents not to view public health facilities as opportunities for crime or transgressions.
He said the incident would be investigated and they would try their best to find Luvuyo’s family.
Police spokesman Captain Andre Beetge said they had received no crime reports after the incident and were not investigating.
“No child from the area has been reported missing at this stage,” he said.
“Maybe his family will still come to make a report.”
Anyone who knows the parents, family members or caregivers of Luvuyo – or can help locate them – should contact Siwisa on 082-734-3902.