Maladministration and improper conduct on the part of Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital staff were responsible for the disappearance of a corpse in 2013, the Public Protector has found.
News24 reports that the Public Protector's office probed the matter after Themba Milton Sithebe's niece, identified as 'Ms Sithebe-Dlamini', laid a complaint against the hospital in October 2018 after his body went missing. She also reported the matter to the police. Sithebe was admitted to the hospital on 26 May 2013, but when his son, Andile Charles Mavi, asked about his father's health days later, he was told that his father could not be found. It was only when the man's daughter approached the hospital that she was told an investigation would be conducted.
A hospital staffer later called her to say that her father had died on 28 May 2013. But the whereabouts of her father's body was a mystery. The hospital completed its internal probe almost four years later, in March 2017 but the investigation did not reveal anything concrete.
Although the family alleged the police failed to investigate the matter, the report findings state that SAPS investigated the missing corpse complaint within a reasonable standard, as expected by law.
However, the report found maladministration and improper conduct on the part of hospital staff who failed to ensure that all the requisite information was completed on Sithebe's death notification report, the News24 report notes. It was also found that the family suffered prejudice due to the hospital's conduct in the case.
The Health Deparment's head of department, Arnold Lesiba Malotana, and the hospital's CEO, Dr Nkele Lesia, were directed to ensure that a patient registration system is in place at the hospital.
The report found that the hospital failed to take action against the implicated officials and instructed it to initiate disciplinary processes against 'Sister Maile', who was responsible for, among others, the violations of the Births and Deaths Registration Act, the regulations relating to the management of human remains and those relating to the rendering of forensic pathology services.
The office also directed that officials must, within 30 days, issue a written apology to Sithebe-Dlamini for the hospital's failure to inform her about the death and subsequent loss of the corpse.