WC Health investigates clinic doctor for ‘belittling’ wheelchair patient

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A doctor at a Cape Town clinic is under investigation after allegedly belittling and threatening a patient in a wheelchair, says a Sunday Times report. Xolisa Jwambi, 50, who became a paraplegic when he was shot in a robbery 18 years ago, said the Mfuleni Day Hospital doctor insulted him and pushed him around the clinic in his wheelchair at “high speed”.

The report says Western Cape Heath’s investigation of Jwambi’s claims is the second time this year it has looked into complaints against Dr Kasonga Monga. Its first investigation cleared Monga and another doctor of ill-treating patients, saying there were no witnesses as most of the alleged incidents happened in consulting rooms. It recommended training for health workers on how to manage “difficult patients”.

Western Cape Health spokesperson Sithembiso Magubane said in the report that the latest claim should be regarded as inaccurate until the investigation had been completed. Interim reports suggested Jwambi was neither assaulted nor shoved around, he said. “The patient is known to the facility and has a history of verbal abuse towards staff.”

The Treatment Action Campaign described Mfuleni clinic as one of the worst in the Western Cape for negative staff attitudes. “Staff seem to do whatever they want,” said spokesperson Angy Peter. “In all the complaints that we have formally lodged about poor service delivery there, management has never owned up to mistakes. Instead they always accuse patients of being difficult.”

According to the report Jwambi, who was at the clinic to have a wound dressed, said Monga became upset when he picked up his folder without permission and an argument ensued. “The next minute, Dr Monga had his hands at the back of my wheelchair. He pushed it around the clinic at high speed, saying I am useless and cannot do anything to him as I’m paralysed,” he said.

The report says according to Jwambi and clinic staff, Monga tilted the wheelchair so far that the paraplegic almost fell off. “When I grabbed an iron pillar to avoid falling from the wheelchair he kept on banging it against the pillar,” he said. “Every time he banged it my back hurt even more. I felt so humiliated and degraded as he called on other patients to watch how he deals with ‘thugs’ like me.”

The first investigation of Monga followed a complaint by Jwambi in December that the doctor had refused to treat him. The report says another patient, Mgcini Mbuli, 58, complained that Monga became irritable when he returned with the same symptoms for a second consultation. “He chased me out of the consulting room. We got into a scuffle after he started kicking me,” Mbuli said.

A patient in the waiting room said: “Staff are so rude here that a lot of us don’t even dare ask questions during consultations.”

The report says police confirmed that Monga had opened an intimidation case against Jwambi.

Sunday Times report (subscription needed)

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