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Shonisani Lethole death: Makgoba recommends 18 staffers face disciplinary action

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Shonisani Lethole succumbed to COVID-19 complications at the facility last July. He used Twitter to reach out to health Minister Zweli Mkhize just days before his death.

FILE: Shonisani Lethole. Picture: Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG – Health Ombudsman Professor Malekgapuru Makgoba on Wednesday recommended that 18 staffers at Tembisa Hospital – including doctors and nurses – face disciplinary action for their role in Shonisani Lethole’s death.

His report into the death of patient Lethole has this week highlighted the glaring inefficiencies on the part of management at hospital.

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Lethole succumbed to COVID-19 complications at the facility last July. He used Twitter to reach out to health Minister Zweli Mkhize just days before his death.

In his heart-breaking post, he told the minister he was being starved by the facility, pleading for help.

Lethole had gone to get medical help while experiencing breathing problems, which Makgoba said were later identified as pneumonia.

He was not aware that he had contracted COVID-19 and his results were only released after his death.

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The ombudsman on Wednesday said that the hospital’s leadership withheld information about Lethole’s treatment and death.

Professor Makgoba’s report focused on allegations around Lethole’s starvation, his medical care, findings of his blood tests and clinical records.

The primary concern was that Lethole was not offered food, despite being kept in the casualty ward for a day before being admitted.

“So on the one hand, he was not admitted, he was not supposed to be fed because they can’t provide the evidence of feeding. But when they project themselves and write a report to the former MEC and to myself, they projected as if this man had received food on the 23rd and 24th (SIC).”

The ombudsman’s recommendations included an independent audit process to assess the competency of the hospital’s leadership.

He also said that 18 staff members, including doctors and nurses, should face disciplinary action.

Lethole’s family was expected to respond to the findings on Thursday.

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