An NMMU student filming Livingstone Hospital nurses allegedly lazing around while patients needed urgent medical attention was assaulted as a security guard tried to delete the footage.
The incident occurred in the full waiting room of the accident and emergency unit early on Sunday, as scores of patients waited for help, at about the same time as a psychiatric patient hanged himself in the unit.
NMMU construction economics student Sinovuyo Canta, 29, has laid a complaint of assault against the security guard with the police.
Canta said she had gone to Livingstone at about 3am on Sunday to support a pregnant friend, Zama Bongosa, 22, of North End, who had been taken to the hospital by ambulance.
Canta said she and Bongosa’s boyfriend, Lukhanyiso Matshoba, 27, who is from Grahamstown, raised concerns over the lack of attention patients were receiving at the unit while nurses just stood around the nurses’ station.
“We were not getting any help, but the minute Matshoba started filming them, they were all suddenly there,” she said.
When Matshoba started taking the video of the nurses, one of them told him to stop.
“She was calling security. I told her he had stopped [filming]. Then I said: ‘Why are all of you here now?’ Then I started shooting video.”
Canta said a security guard grabbed her by the arm and twisted it behind her back. “I also felt punches in my stomach.
“He was trying to prevent others from seeing what he was doing,” she alleged.
The guard also allegedly tried to get hold of her phone.
She is also considering taking legal action against the Department of Health and the security firm.
Bongosa said a nurse had shouted for security to come and escort Matshoba out of the ward and to force him to delete the video footage he had recorded.
“He [Matshoba] started questioning the conduct of the nurses.
“He asked the nurses why they, as public servants, would sit and laze around while there were patients waiting to be assisted.
“It was at this point that security started assaulting a friend of mine [Canta] who had also questioned the appalling conduct of these public servants.
“She [Canta] was then grabbed by her arm and beaten up by a male security guard. The beating could’ve been more severe if my boyfriend hadn’t intervened.”
Police spokeswoman Captain Sandra Janse van Rensburg confirmed that a case of assault had been opened at the Gelvandale police station.
Lebo Nare, a director of Mafoko Security, which supplies the hospital with guards, said they were not aware of the incident but, if true, it was unacceptable.
“We haven’t been informed of the charge yet but we will take it very seriously,” he said. “Assaulting a woman is absolutely wrong. “As soon as I have been in touch with the complainant we will escalate this issue and sort it out.”
Provincial health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said: “At this stage, the management of Livingstone Hospital has not been informed of the incident.
“We urge those involved to get in touch with the department.
“It is absolutely unacceptable for security to assault a member of the public. We really need to investigate.”
DA spokeswoman on health Celeste Barker said: “I will submit questions for oral reply to the [Health] MEC [Pumza Dyantyi] about protocol and why a male security guard was allowed to assault a woman.
“This must never happen again.”