The mother of a three-year-old girl who died at Prophet Paseka Motsoeneng’s church has told of her child’s last moments.
This was shortly after Nontombi Gwam opened a case of culpable homicide and assault against a female paramedic dispatched to the church in Katlehong, Ekurhuleni, South Africa, on Sunday.
Gwam said if the paramedics had arrived on time, instead of accusing her of negligence when they finally did, her daughter Latoya would still be alive.
In an affidavit read out by a relative outside a police station, Gwam said she took her daughter to Motsoeneng - also known as Prophet Mboro - for prayer because she was desperate for her little girl to get better.
She said she had taken Latoya to the Daveyton Main Clinic the previous day, where nurses told her they could not help her, because they had no intravenous drips.
“On my arrival, there were three people in front of me (in the queue). At that stage, my baby messed herself, because of diarrhoea. I went and fetched some cleaning equipment and cleaned the floor
“Then the nurses asked me what was the problem with the child. I told them that the child was sick and needed immediate attention. The nurses told me they couldn’t help me, because they didn’t have any drips to assist the child and that I must take the child to the hospital,” the affidavit read in part.
Gwam said the nurses told her to take Latoya to the hospital, but did not give her a referral letter.
She said she took the child to a private doctor who demanded R930 for a rehydration drip for Latoya.
“Later that night, my child became restless and started having diarrhoea again. In the morning I decided to go to the church to seek help, as I did not have any letter of referral. I was desperate and then went to Prophet Mboro’s church.
“I went there so that Mboro could help me pray for my baby and also to call an ambulance to take my baby to the hospital.”
Gwam said Mboro prayed for her child, who was talking in a whisper. Gwam said about 50 people called the Ekurhuleni emergency services, but the ambulance never came on time.
She said one church member was told that the child’s condition was not serious, while another was told Mboro’s church was not the only one requesting an ambulance.
“The ambulance arrived about 90 minutes after the first call was made (The crew) refused to enter the church,” Gwam said, adding that Mboro then took the child outside, but the female paramedic would not assist.
“The female paramedic stood there with her hands in her pockets,” Gwam said.
“After the male paramedic opened the door, Mboro entered the ambulance with Latoya,” she added.
“Prophet Mboro placed my sick child on the stretcher. He placed my child on her back with her head tilted to one side.
“At that stage, the child made some very faint sounds. She was calling for her father, who is known as Babane.
“The child was whispering and crying faintly Prophet Mboro then told the paramedic that my child was dehydrated and also needed oxygen.”
Gwam said she was injured after an oxygen tank that the female paramedic threw on the stretcher bounced and hit her legs.
“I now wish for the police to investigate a case of culpable homicide against the female paramedic for causing the death of my child I believe that it was through her negligence that my child died,” Gwam said.
On Tuesday, Ekurhuleni West police spokesperson Captain Lesetja Mathobela confirmed that the female paramedic had opened a case of common assault against Mboro.
He said an inquest docket had been opened and police investigations were continuing.
Mathobela said the post-mortem would reveal the cause of the child’s death, which would determine whether the case remained an inquest or not.
Ekurhuleni Disaster and Emergency Management Services spokesperson William Ntladi said the staff member escaped with a laceration on her face after being manhandled by Mboro and his congregants.
“Before they could do anything, the prophet already had the child in his hands to load what seemed to be a lifeless body into the ambulance,” Ntladi said, adding: “A confrontation ensued between the crew and the prophet, whereby a female ambulance driver was manhandled on the scene by the prophet and the congregation.”
But Mboro has denied this, saying: “If she was assaulted, she wouldn’t have walked. There were thousands of people there and they would have broken every bone. It was an appeal to attend (to) the child.”
Gauteng health spokesperson Lesemang Matuka said it was against their policy to turn patients away from healthcare facilities.
“If it is brought to our attention, we will investigate it,” he said, adding that if found to be true, those responsible would be brought to justice.