For the first time in three days little Shannon Botha – brutally beaten in a home invasion at the weekend – was able to respond to family members, giving her mother’s finger a brief squeeze yesterday.
But while the three-year-old’s response brought a glimmer of hope, the devastated family also had to deal with the death of Shannon’s grandmother, Tershia Botha, 47, who was fatally injured in the attack.
Both suffered multiple head injuries in the savage assault at their Chatty 12 home at about 6pm on Saturday.
However, the family shed tears of joy yesterday as Shannon, who had lain unresponsive in hospital since the attack, gripped her mother’s finger and cried for the first time since the incident. She remains in a critical condition. Botha died at Livingstone Hospital at 8.12am yesterday.
On Monday, the family had waited in vain until 7.30pm for doctors to arrive and do final checks before giving the go-ahead to switch off the machines which were keeping her alive.
The family, none of whom wanted to be named, said Botha’s heart had stopped beating on its own yesterday morning.
They claimed Livingstone Hospital staff had not informed them of her death and they were shocked to find her lifeless body when they went to check on her yesterday morning.
“There was no dignity in the way she ended up in hospital or in the way she was cared for from the time she arrived till her death,” Botha’s father said.
After the attack, enraged residents pulled Madoda “Doopla” Tesana – who they accused of perpetrating the attack – from his shack 10m from Botha’s home on Sunday night, beat him up and pelted him with stones.
The residents allege he was responsible for the attack and two similar incidents in the same street over the past year.
Tesana’s mother, who also declined to be named, said there had been no change in his condition yesterday, which was still listed as critical.
Holding the hand of her older daughter, Cassie, 7, and wiping away tears, Shannon’s mother, Candice, said: “Right now I am just trying to focus on my child and stay strong for her sake.”
Shannon’s head was still severely swollen yesterday, with visible bruising on her neck and head.
“The whole situation disgusts me,” Botha’s father said. “They were savagely attacked.
“Tershia was brought to Livingstone, where they placed her [alleged] attacker in the bed next to her.
“She hadn’t been cleaned when we arrived [yesterday]. There were also three gold rings [allegedly] stolen off her left hand [on Monday night].
“It really is heartbreaking to think about the amount of suffering she had to endure.”
In response to the claims, provincial health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said: “Families should observe visiting hours to allow internal operations and avoid being exposed to situations they are not trained to handle.
“The allegations about theft are serious and will be investigated, but it is not something that normally occurs in hospitals – we respect our patients and those who, unfortunately, die in our care.”
Asked why the family had not been notified of Botha’s death, Kupelo said: “Death cannot be reported immediately, protocols are followed.”
Police spokeswoman Captain Sandra Janse van Rensburg reiterated previous calls for residents with information about the case to contact the Bethelsdorp Police Station.
“Two counts of attempted murder were initially opened, one for the grandmother and the other for the little girl,” she said.
“However, following Botha’s death the charge has been changed to murder.”
A separate case of attempted murder was being investigated with regard to the attack on Tesana, she said.