An 18-year-old Galeshewe teenager has died in hospital following an apparent random stabbing by a notorious gang at Hulana Park.
AN 18-YEAR-old Galeshewe teenager has died in Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital (RMSH) following an apparent random stabbing by a notorious gang at Hulana Park during the early hours of December 3.
The devastated family of the victim, Brett Peterson, have accused the police and the hospital of failing to save their loved one, who apparently lay in the emergency ward for close to 12 hours.
Brett reportedly died gasping for air just before 6pm on Sunday after being admitted to the hospital at around 5am.
According to his family, he had suffered several stab wounds and his stomach had been slashed open, with his intestines exposed.
The family accused the police of twice refusing to assist them after being stopped and asked for assistance.
They also accused the nurses and doctors at RMSH of failing to rush the deceased to theatre.
Brett was a Grade 10 learner at Emmanuel High School and had just turned 18 in November.
He was allegedly stabbed, along with two friends, by members of a notorious gang known as “Amapiano”.
One of his friends was stabbed in the shoulder while the other suffered several stab wounds in the face and head.
Brett’s mother, Maggie Peterson, said she witnessed how her son fought for his life the entire day after she was called to the hospital early on Sunday.
She said she had visited with her son, who lived with his grandmother, on Saturday.
“We had lunch together and before he left I asked him to be safe because he was riding a bicycle and I knew it was a busy weekend. Little did I know that that was my last happy moment with him,” sobbed the mother.
A neighbour, who is also the mother of one of the other victims, said her son arrived home with a stab wound at around 1.30am.
“He told me that he was lucky to be alive because the knife was aimed at his neck. He explained that the suspect stabbed him while his friends held his hands tight,” said the neighbour.
“About 10 minutes later, while I was busy struggling to call the ambulance, his friend arrived and was covered in blood, with stab wounds to his head, face and body.
“While I was attending to them, another friend arrived and told me that Brett was also stabbed, but that they don’t know where he is.
“I asked other people to help in calling an ambulance because the calls were not going through.
“We informed Brett’s mother, but decided not to wait for her to arrive and instead went to go and look for him.
“We rounded up neighbours and his friends and searched at Hulana. The thought of him lying helplessly somewhere was driving me crazy.”
The neighbour said that during their search they were confronted by a group of knife-wielding youths.
“Somewhere at the Pick n Pay circle, our attention was caught by this group of about six boys, heading in our direction. They were carrying knives and were confrontational, with the intention to block us from passing.
“We felt cornered. Luckily, I saw a police vehicle approaching us and flagged it down and asked for their help. I told them that we were cornered and were in search of an injured person.
“They drove forward and scared the group out of our way. The youths split up and fled into nearby yards. Then the police van sped off.”
She said they proceeded to Hulana Park, but before they reached the park they noticed a woman and a child standing outside a yard.
“The woman told us that there was a stabbed boy lying inside her yard, but he was too weak to identify himself. I asked to see him and explained that we were looking for an injured person. What I saw was shocking.”
The neighbour broke down in tears as she explained further.
“Brett immediately recognised me. We tried to call the ambulance again. A girl told us that she had tried to call many times but the call would not go through.
“The woman explained to us that the gang tried to enter her yard in an attempt to finish off Brett, but she managed to chase them away.”
The neighbour said she saw a police van again and she flagged it down.
“There were two female officers dressed in uniform – the driver and one in the backseat – and one intoxicated male in private clothes who was in the passenger seat.
“I asked them to assist us in calling an ambulance because we could not get through. They parked the van and the two females got out. They only looked at the victim and said, ‘We can’t do anything’.
“As they got back into the van, I asked them again for assistance. They said they would call an ambulance before speeding off.”
She said they continued to try and call the ambulance service but could still not get through. Someone then suggested that they call a private ambulance, which arrived within 10 minutes.
She said Brett arrived at the hospital with his uncle sometime past 5am and they followed with a cab.
“Brett’s mother was allowed to see him before we went to sit outside the casualty ward, at around 6am.
She explained further that, at around 8am, a doctor approached them with a consent form and told Brett’s mother to sign it as he had to go to theatre immediately as he had lost a lot of blood.
“We were so happy and relieved that his life would be saved. The doctor even told her not to go far in case she was needed. So we continued to sit outside.
“The child was still strong and would have made it through that surgery.
“At around 11am, we decided to go and check on the patient, whom we were promised would be moved to the A4 ward after surgery. We learnt from the porter that a boy whose stomach was slashed was moved to the A4 ward. We were so relieved and concluded that he must be finished in theatre, only to realise that he had never even been taken to theatre.
“We returned to the casualty ward and found him still there, being moved to the ward at the end of the room. Upon enquiring, the doctor said the theatre was full and that he was still going to be taken in.
“At around 12, he was still strong and could move on his bed. He could even move his legs and spoke clearly to us.
“I left his mother at the hospital to come and refresh and fetch them food.”
She said she was shocked to later receive a call that Brett had passed away.
“They took away someone dear to us. He was a quiet child and only spoke when spoken to. He was respectful, although he was human like any other child and went out to party, but always returned home with his friend without any incidents.
“If only the police had assisted us and the doctors had done their job, our son would have made it,” she sobbed.
One of Brett’s friends said that they were with him the whole time until they were told to leave because the doctor wanted to work on him.
He explained that Brett needed air.
“The doctor asked us what the patient said and we responded that he asked for oxygen. She left and returned after a long while, with only the blood pressure machine. I was standing there speechless as to why they didn’t put him on oxygen at least.
“Then two doctors came and told him that they would be taking him to theatre … Only 45 minutes later my mother came to tell us that my friend had left us.
“We had been very hopeful because he kept on telling us that he was going to make it,” said the friend.
Maggie said they were sitting in the waiting area when the doctor came to tell them that her son had died.
“The doctor said my son was vomiting, then choked from the vomit and lost consciousness several times and eventually died a few minutes before 6pm,” she said.
“I wanted answers as to why they didn’t take him to the theatre as per the promise in the morning. Why did they have to leave my son unattended the whole day as if his case was not an emergency. Why did they delay to save my child?”
The bereaved family has meanwhile called on the police to arrest the group of suspects they believe to be responsible for the stabbings.
They claimed that the police failed to arrest the suspects after Brett died in hospital.
According to them, the suspects attempted to strike again and corner the surviving friends at their homes. This is after the victims apparently identified them and opened cases against them.
Northern Cape Department of Health spokesperson Lulu Mxekezo conveyed her deepest condolences to the bereaved family.
Mxekezo said the patient was assessed and evaluated several times while he was waiting to be wheeled to theatre, because the theatre was busy with other emergency cases.
“Sadly, there were other emergency cases currently in theatre at the time of his arrival. The doctors did their best to assist him while waiting for the other cases to be operated on. Unfortunately, he died before he could be wheeled to theatre,” said Mxekezo.
The police had failed to respond to media enquiries at the time of publication.