UDM deputy president’s aunt finally cleared for burial

UDM deputy president Nqabayomzi Kwankwa
IN MOURNING: UDM deputy president Nqabayomzi Kwankwa
Image: Nqabayomzi Kwankwa via Twitter

UDM deputy-president Nqabayomzi Kwankwa’s aunt will be buried on Saturday, after the family received confirmation that she had tested negative for Covid-19.

Kwankwa had accused the Eastern Cape health department and its workers of negligence after the death of his aunt, Nomathamsanqa Joyce Banzi, on Tuesday.

Premier Oscar Mabuyane has since referred the matter to the health ombudsman to conduct a full investigation into the allegations made by Kwankwa.

Kwankwa said his aunt, 59, had suffered from hypertension and had been ill for some time.

Nomathamsanqa Joyce Banzi
Nomathamsanqa Joyce Banzi
Image: Supplied

Kwankwa said the family had received her Covid-19 results and were told she had tested negative and they could fetch the body and proceed with her burial.

“There’s been confusion around this whole period because as the family we were never made aware of her earlier Covid-19 positive diagnosis,” he said.

“Had we known we would’ve taken precautionary measures to protect both her and the family using medication as well as traditional measures.”

Kwankwa said health officials at SS Gida Hospital had told them they could give his aunt a normal burial as she did not have the coronavirus.

In a heart-rending letter written to Mabuyane on May 6, detailing what his aunt had endured trying to access health care, Kwankwa said he had informed health MEC Sindiswa Gomba about the situation after his aunt died.

“I write this letter not only because of my family’s personal tragedy and unbearable experience at the hands of some Eastern Cape health workers, but also because our experience concerns potentially thousands of South Africans and has an impact on the spread of the coronavirus in the Eastern Cape,” he said.

In his letter, Kwankwa painted a horrific picture of how his sickly aunt, carried by her son, was sent from Grey Provincial Hospital in King William’s Town, to Bhisho Provincial Hospital and later SS Gida Hospital in Keiskammahoek.

“On 3 May, in the early morning, my aunt severely struggled to breathe and a gracious neighbour took her to Dimbaza clinic, from where she was referred and admitted to SS Gida Hospital in Keiskammahoek where she was placed in isolation. She was left to die on her own on May 5..

“As a family we are sad, but we are angry too, as we were sent from pillar to post by what seems an incompetent Eastern Cape health care system, which resulted in my aunt paying with her life.

“The poor level of treatment at Grey Provincial Hospital and Bhisho Provincial Hospital’s refusal to treat my aunt leave much to be desired. They dropped the ball and it had fatal consequences,” he wrote.

Kwankwa said he was not convinced that the necessary interventions were made, and precautionary measures taken.

He said there had been concerns his aunt had contracted Covid-19 and that there had been ample opportunity for her to pass it to those about her, including her son, who works at a King William’s Town mall.

“If he possibly contracted the coronavirus from his mother, the impact of his interaction with staff members and the public is cause for serious concern. He could inadvertently be a node for the wildfire spread of Covid-19 in King William’s Town.

“I would humbly suggest that the shopping centre’s management be contacted as soon as possible so that they may test their staff for Covid-19 and rush to take other precautionary measures needed.”

On Friday, Kwankwa said he hoped Mabuyane’s full investigation would unearth where the weaknesses within the department of health were and that they would be dealt with.

“All the hospitals I’ve mentioned in my letter are institutions which have appeared in the news for different reasons in the past few weeks.

“I’m sure my situation isn’t unique but I hope it could shed some light as to what other ordinary citizens experience. I was lucky enough to be able to reach out to officials to try to get answers,” Kwankwa said.

In a statement on Friday, Mabuyane’s spokesperson, Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetcha, confirmed the premier had received Kwankwa’s letter complaining about the alleged bad treatment of his aunt.

“Premier Mabuyane sends his heartfelt condolences to Mr Kwankwa and his entire family for the loss of their aunt. This morning premier Mabuyane made a telephone call to Mr Kwankwa responding to the letter.

“After considering this complaint, premier Mabuyane has decided to refer the complaint from Mr Kwankwa to the office of the health ombudsman for a full investigation,” Sicwetsha said.

Sicwetsha said this was done in the best interest of the people of the province receiving health services from provincial government hospitals and clinics.