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Mentally ill patient is raped in hospital

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It is believed that a security guard caught the suspect in the act during the early hours of Sunday morning and notified the police

The Professor ZK Matthews Hospital in Barkly West. Picture: Soraya Crowie

A 19-YEAR-old mentally ill patient who was allegedly raped by another patient at Professor ZK Matthews Hospital in Barkly West on the weekend, had been waiting for the past two months to be referred to the West End psychiatric hospital.

In the act

It is believed that a security guard caught the suspect in the act during the early hours of Sunday morning and notified the police.

A 32-year-old man was arrested shortly after the incident.

The woman’s family said they were informed that there was a shortage of beds at West End Hospital in Kimberley.

“We admitted her at Professor ZK Matthews Hospital when she became confused, as she suffers from mental illness. This is the first time that she was admitted into hospital and has been away from home for such a long time,” family members said yesterday.

They pointed out that it was normal practice for patients to be accommodated at a district hospital for a maximum of 72 hours before being referred to a specialist care facility.

“However, she has been at the Professor ZK Matthews Hospital for the past 41 days. We do not have a private medical aid and rely on the state for services, so we had no other choice but to wait patiently.

“Following the rape incident, a bed suddenly became available. We were only informed by the hospital about the incident at around 8am on Sunday.”

The woman’s mother said that her daughter had spoken briefly about the incident.

“She was helpless and unable to defend herself. The social worker said that counselling would be arranged for her. We are hoping that she will be able to return home soon because we are very worried about her after her ordeal. We want the incident to be investigated by the hospital to prevent it from ever happening again.”

The woman’s grandmother added that her granddaughter was tearful and extremely upset over what happened. “Something like this should never be allowed to happen inside a hospital.”

Family members said that they remain concerned about the safety and well-being of the woman.

“It means that patients are at risk in hospital – where they are sent to be healed. Anything could have happened to her.

“We cannot communicate with her because she is not allowed to keep her cellphone with her.”

The spokesperson for the MEC for the Northern Cape Department of Health, Lebogang Majaha, said that the delay in the referral of the patient would form part of their investigation into the incident.

“We will offer our full co-operation to the police,” Majaha added.