We're being 'scapegoated' over viral video, says Mamelodi Hospital nurse

The SAHRC's Buang Jones on Tuesday, sitting on the bench where 76-year-old Martha Marais was tied up while awaiting treatment at Mamelodi Hospital last week,
The SAHRC's Buang Jones on Tuesday, sitting on the bench where 76-year-old Martha Marais was tied up while awaiting treatment at Mamelodi Hospital last week,
Image: Nomahlubi Jordaan

The chairperson of a nursing union at Mamelodi Hospital in Pretoria says an investigation into an incident in which an elderly woman was tied to a bench will be biased against nurses.

Footage of Martha Marais, 76, being tied to a bench at the hospital earlier this month went viral.

A nurse, a security guard and two doctors implicated in the matter have been put on special leave following a preliminary investigation conducted by the provincial health department.

"Since the incident happened, no one has come to us as unions to ask how we feel about what has happened," said William Aphane, the chairperson of the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) at the hospital, on Tuesday.

He was speaking to Buang Jones, Gauteng manager of the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) during a site visit at the hospital.

The SAHRC is conducting a separate investigation into the matter.

Jones said the purpose of site visit was to examine a number of factors, including infrastructure and human resources, and to ascertain whether patients were receiving proper health care.

"Everyone just goes to management. No union members were interviewed. No nurses were interviewed about this. Management are giving a one-sided story. The workers have no voice on this one," said Aphane.

He said workers at the hospital were demoralised. "We feel we are being scapegoated for other people's problems," he said.

"There are a lot of faults in the system, like infrastructure. What can a nurse do about infrastructure? We don't have a seclusion room, but we get mental patients who need to be secluded and we can't do that here at casualty."

Officials the SAHRC interacted with highlighted a number of challenges facing the hospital, including staff and bed shortages, inadequate ventilation and a lack of seclusion rooms for mentally challenged patients.

Pharmacist Isabella Matampane said the hospital was struggling with an adequate supply of ARVs.

"I can't say we are running out of medication. Instead of giving patients three months' supply, we are issuing one month's supply," she said.


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