No doctor available as family waits to switch off life support equipment
The devastated family of Tershia Botha, the Chatty grandmother who was viciously attacked along with her three-year-old granddaughter, were last night expected to switch off the life support machines keeping her alive.
But they waited in vain for a doctor to arrive to do the final checks and give the go-ahead, and eventually went home just before 8pm.
Meanwhile, with Chatty residents in an uproar over the deadly assault, a man suspected by residents of being the assailant was admitted to hospital after being assaulted and pelted with stones and bricks late on Sunday.
A bizarre scenario played out at Livingstone Hospital when the injured man was wheeled into the casualty ward where Botha was being treated, and was discovered lying in the bed next to her by her family, who immediately asked for him to be moved.
The machines keeping Botha, 47, alive were expected to be switched off last night after she was declared brain dead earlier in the morning, according to her sister who, like other family members, asked not to be named.
This, while her granddaughter Shannon Botha, whose head was severely swollen, underwent scans at Dora Nginza Hospital.
Both suffered multiple head injuries in the attack at their Chatty 12 home on Saturday at about 6pm. The motive remains unknown. “We have been ready to switch off the machines since much earlier today, but we were told that we had to wait for a doctor to do final checks,” Botha’s sister said.
“But just now [7.30pm] we were told the doctors had done their final rounds so we are going to say a prayer and go home.
“The hospital needs to call us once the doctors are here and then we will come back to switch off the machines.”
Provincial health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo confirmed that Botha and her granddaughter were in a critical condition last night.
Asked whether Livingstone Hospital had been instructed to switch off Botha’s machines, he said: “The clinicians are in constant contact with the family and I cannot discuss the content.”
Following the assault, angry residents claimed on Sunday to know the whereabouts and identity of the alleged assailant, vowing: “We know who the culprit is and will deal with him before he does this again.”
At about 9pm on Sunday, Madoda “Doopla” Tesana was pulled from his shack about 10m from Botha’s house.
According to a family friend and neighbour of Botha’s – who also did not want to be named – about 30 residents hurled insults at Tesana, demanding that he confess to the previous night’s attack and reveal who assisted him, before assaulting him.
The residents claim three such incidents have occurred over the past year in the same street and that they are linked.
Tesana was later taken to Livingstone, where Botha’s sister claims he was lying in the bed next to hers.
“When I saw it was him, I told the nurse to move him away because I just couldn’t,” she said.
“I was so angry, I thought I was going to kill him myself. I mean, imagine seeing the man who [allegedly] left my sister brain dead and looking like this.”
Arriving at the hospital’s casualty ward, Botha’s daughter threw herself on the floor, crying as she looked at her unresponsive mother’s badly swollen face.
“My mother, how could he do this to my mother!” she shouted, as family members tried to restrain her.
Botha’s sister said: “What upsets me most is that the police were quicker to react and come and save his [Tesana’s] life than they were to get to my sister’s scene.
“And this happens just after women and child protection week. “But this is not over. “We can’t allow this type of situation to carry on, where women and children are left bloodied, bruised and brain dead.
“We need to eradicate these types of predators from the community.”
Tesana’s mother, who also declined to be named, said she feared for the lives of her two daughters who lived in Tesana’s shack.
“They will become a target in Chatty because of what people think their brother did.
“I am scared for my own life as well. I really don’t know what to do about this situation.”
Asked about the residents’ allegations, she said: “I don’t know what he does, I don’t live at that house. I really have no idea how it has escalated to this point.
“Whether it was or wasn’t him, I still want to apologise for what has happened.
“Regardless of where you come from or who you are, losing a family member is never easy.
“And I beg everyone that nothing happens to my family.”
Of the attack on Tesana, Botha’s friend said: “By the time the police arrived, there were about 30 or more people beating him up. They were dropping bricks on his head.
“They gave him time to answer for his [alleged] crimes – they asked him to admit to it and say who helped him.
“But he refused, he just kept on saying nxolo [sorry].”
Police spokeswoman Captain Sandra Janse van Rensburg warned residents against taking the law into their own hands and urged them to report any information they might have to the Bethelsdorp Police Station.
“The task of the community is to report those who allegedly commit crime to the police,” she said.
She said police were investigating a case of attempted murder following the attack on Tesana.