New mom whose baby fell as she gave birth speaks out about humiliation at Joburg hospital

The woman has also opened a case of assault against a security guard at the South Rand Hospital

15 January 2021 - 07:30
By belinda pheto AND Belinda Pheto
Philisiwe Mabena with her newborn baby boy who fell while she was giving birth to him at South Rand Hospital in Joburg.
Image: Supplied Philisiwe Mabena with her newborn baby boy who fell while she was giving birth to him at South Rand Hospital in Joburg.

A 23-year-old new mother, whose baby fell while she was giving birth, and who was allegedly assaulted by hospital security, says she is still traumatised by the ordeal.

Philisiwe Mabena, from Regents Park, south of Johannesburg, said she was happy that she and her baby boy were alive.

According to the mother, her baby boy fell while she was trying to get help from nurses and doctors at the South Rand Hospital.

“I was screaming and asking for help, but no-one came. I kept on pleading for help and said the baby’s head is out. But no-one came to assist me,” the mother told TimesLIVE in a phone interview from her home.

The interview came shortly after Mabena had opened assault and negligence cases with police.

She said all she remembered was seeing her baby fall to the floor.

“I then passed out, and I'm not sure what happened next,” she said.

The first-time mother — who said she was still weak and traumatised by the incident — said she suffered more humiliation at the hands of the hospital staff, who she said treated her like she was mentally ill.

“They called me all sort of names and said I was crazy because I was furious at what happened and the lack of care I received,” she said. Mabena alleges the staff even wanted to take her baby away from her, saying she was a danger to her newborn.

“They called social workers for me and said I’m not fit to look after the child. They said this because I was furious about their negligence and they didn’t want to take responsibility for their actions. They made out I was at fault,” she said.

But after the traumatic experience of the birth, she said she was assaulted by hospital security as she was trying to walk out of the ward to look for her mother.

“They didn’t want me to leave the ward. In the meeting with the social worker, I felt overpowered because they [nurses, doctors and a social worker] were all ganging up against me. They were all together and supporting each other. I was alone and needed someone who would be on my side. They were insisting that I need to give away my child,” she said.

The new mother then asked to end the interview, saying she was feeling weak and wanted to rest.

Philisiwe’s mother, Louisa, 58, said she was heartbroken by what her daughter and grandson went through.

“Childbirth alone is painful and for one to also suffer emotional pain is just dreadful. I wish I could take away the pain my daughter and grandson are going through. Imagine a newborn baby with bones that are still not formed falling to the floor. This is just painful,” she said.

She said that when she met with the social worker, the same statement of her daughter being unfit to look after the baby was repeated — and she told the social worker that if that was the case, the baby could be discharged into her care.

The grandmother said the baby had a mark on his back and said it probably came from the fall.

Louisa said she insisted that her daughter and grandson be discharged because she didn’t trust they would be safe.

On her daughter and grandson’s conditions, Louisa said she was not sure about what to do as they both looked weak. But she was insistent that she would not take them back to South Rand Hospital.

The spokesperson for the Gauteng department of health, Kwara Kekana, told TimesLIVE earlier that the department would look into the matter.

DA MP Luyolo Mphithi said he helped the mother open an assault case at Moffatview police station. He said he had contacted the provincial health department head and was waiting for feedback.