JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Pressure is mounting on the national police commissioner to carry out the exhumation of a body of a baby for DNA testing that will determine if indeed a mourning Ekurhuleni mother buried the right child.
Kehla Sitole has been issued with a second court order to initiate the delayed process of exhuming the body after he ignored the first order that was issued on July 30. However, the exhumation wasn’t carried out, thus forcing the court to issue the second one that could give the mother closure.
The Star has seen the second court order issued on September 9, ordering Sitole to take necessary steps to exhume the body and to purge the contempt of judgment which was initially issued on July 30. The Department of Heath is listed as a first respondent, while Sitole is the second respondent.
“Should the second respondent fail to purge the contempt referred to above, the second respondent must file an affidavit within 5 days explaining why he should not be arrested or committed for being in contempt of the judgment handed down on July 30 by Justice Avvakoumides.
“The second respondent must, within 2 days of the service of this order, take steps necessary to purge the contempt of the judgment handed down on July 30. The second respondent to pay the costs on party and party scale,” reads the court order, in part.
Asked to provide clarification on the delay of the exhumation and the commissioners’ response on the matter, national police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo and his Gauteng counterpart, Brigadier Mathapelo Peters, told The Star they were unaware of the court order.
Zizipho Ranuga, 25, claims the Far East Rand Hospital wrongfully gave her a deceased child whom she was pushed to bury. The baby was buried on May 8 at Lala Ngoxolo, Crystal Park Cemetery in Benoni.
Gauteng Department of Health spokesperson Kwara Kekana refuted Ranuga’s claims.
“It is not true that Ms Ranuga was forced to acknowledge a deceased infant to be hers,” Kekana said.
Ranuga alleged she gave birth prematurely on April 13, and was told that the baby was not yet strong enough to leave the hospital.
“I was discharged the following day and left my baby at the hospital. I spent the next two weeks visiting the hospital to check up on my baby,” Ranuga said.
She further detailed that she visited the hospital on May 1, a day that she was told her baby had died.
“I saw my baby on that day and I informed the nurses that I will be gone for the weekend and I will be back on Monday, (May 4).
“When I returned that Monday, I was told that my baby died on May 1 but I was not informed via phone call or anything.”
Ranuga said the baby given to her on the day was different to the one she checked up on regularly for almost two weeks.
Kekana argued that the hospital made efforts to get hold of Ranuga.
“After the institution’s several attempts to get hold of her failed, the institution therefore contacted the Daveyton police station and requested them to visit Ms Ranuga’s home and inform her that the hospital is urgently looking for her,” Kekana said.
“After a patient has been declared dead by the attending doctor, the family of the deceased is informed, and necessary documentation is made available.”
Ranuga said the hospital sent her from pillar to post when she asked questions pertaining to her baby’s death.
“Hospital made several attempts to get hold of the mother Kwara Kekana.
“The deceased baby who was given to me looked eight months old, he was big in weight compared to my baby who was tiny. I was told that the child was mine. My family and I had no choice but to bury the child.”
The mother said the matter has caused her great distress for her and her family.
“I just want to find peace and closure. It’s really sad because this whole thing is just dragging on. Sometimes I cannot even eat or sleep.”
The mother added that nurses at the hospital were against exhuming the body for DNA testing.
However, Kekana said the exhuming of a body was not done by the hospital, but was a competency of the forensic unit.