From a plea for help to Tembisa Hospital CEO's suspension - how we got here

01 February 2021 - 12:50
By cebelihle bhengu AND Cebelihle Bhengu
The family of  Shonisani  Lethole  - his sister Dakalo, mother Patricia and father Albert - said the findings of the report about his death are 'overwhelming'.
Image: Thulani Mbele The family of Shonisani Lethole - his sister Dakalo, mother Patricia and father Albert - said the findings of the report about his death are 'overwhelming'.

Tembisa Hospital CEO Lekopane Mogaladi has five working days to make representations regarding his suspension by the Gauteng health department.

This comes after a scathing report into the death of Shonisani Lethole, who died at the hospital in June last year.

Lethole was admitted to the hospital after testing positive for Covid-19. He tweeted health minister Zweli Mkhize about his mistreatment at the hospital and claimed he had been starved.

After his death, Mkhize called on health ombudsman Dr Malegapuru Makgoba to launch an investigation.

The findings have been described by his family as “overwhelming”.

Here's a timeline of events that led to Mogaladi’s suspension:

January 27: Ombudsman releases findings

Last week, Makgoba announced the findings of the report into Letholes death:

  • the care provided to Lethole was substandard and negligent;
  • he was not offered food during his stay at the hospital for 100 hours and 54 minutes; 
  • he tested for Covid-19 upon admission on June 23 and died without receiving his test results; 
  • records by nursing staff indicate he died on June 29, but he was not declared dead by a doctor until June 30; 
  • it took 69 hours and 19 minutes before two registered medical practitioners could assess Lethole’s condition for the first time since admission 

January 28: Hospital will contest report, but health department won't

Mogaladi denied some contents of the report, saying it had misleading information. He said not all staff members were interviewed, and affidavits from some patients who were witnesses were ignored.

The Gauteng health department said if Mogaladi wished to appeal the report, he would do so independently. It committed to implementing the ombudsman’s recommendations.

January 28: Report into Letholes death is ‘overwhelming’ - parents 

Vhahangwele and Albert Lethole said their son’s death left them traumatised. They said they called on the provincial health department to ensure progressive steps are taken to fix issues at the hospital so it can be of service to the community of Tembisa.

They said the report confirmed their son had not been fed for hours during his stay in the hospital.

January 29: Medical association calls for ‘meaningful change

The SA Medical Association (Sama) said the findings of the report demonstrated failures in the health care system.

Sama chairperson Dr Angelique Coetzee said there needs to be an investigation into the number of staff and patients at the hospital.

She said the organisation asked for a meeting with Mkhize and other stakeholders to discuss reform in the health-care system. Coetzee said nurses and doctors should receive adequate support so they are able to perform their duties.

January 30: Department moves to suspend hospital CEO 

Gauteng health department spokesperson Kwara Kekana reiterated the department’s decision to implement the recommendations in the report.

She said hospital CEO Dr Lekopane Mogaladi received notice of his suspension on Friday and had five working days to make representations.

“As part of standard labour practices, the CEO has been afforded an opportunity to make representations, within five working days of receipt of the notice, regarding the intention to place him on precautionary suspension,” said Kekana.