Questions remain over death of patient found in hospital ceiling

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Father-of-six Teteteke Gqontsi did not die as a result of the surgery for which he was admitted at Stellenbosch Hospital, where his body was discovered in an isolated area in the ceiling at the facility. A Cape Times report says this is according to the 61-year-old’s family, following their meeting with the hospital’s management. Gqontsi’s brother, Christmas Khethwane, said they were left to conclude that foul play had occurred.

According to the Western Cape Health Department, Gqontsi was admitted to Stellenbosch Hospital on 5 October after he underwent abdominal surgery. A nurse attending to him had left to get clean linen when Gqontsi disappeared. He was found by workers doing renovations at the hospital on 20 October. “They (hospital management) said it was clear that my brother did not die as a result of natural causes. He died as a result of something and was placed where he was found,” said Khethwane.

“We suspect that someone may have placed him there. They say the autopsy results have come out, but there were some still outstanding. They will wait for those results to determine whether it was the hospital that killed him or the doctor or even the nurse, because clearly he did not die as a result of his health problems. We will wait for them. They must take responsibility. If the hospital is guilty of anything, they must do something,” he said.

He is quoted in the report as saying that it was not explained to them how Gqontsi disappeared despite a security presence at the hospital. “He disappeared under their own guard and was subsequently found in their facility in an area he couldn’t have accessed by himself. They are puzzled by how he went missing. It was the manager of the hospital that we met with that day. As we prepare for his funeral, they advised us to keep all the receipts of the things that we will buy for his funeral,” he said.

The provincial Health Department said construction work was currently being carried out at the hospital, which also contributed to the difficulty of the search. According to the report, the department’s spokesperson, Mark van der Heever, said all queries around the investigation, both from the media and the family, should be addressed to the SAPS. “We have assisted the family and will continue to do so. The autopsy has been completed, and the cause of death will be shared with the investigation officer. The circumstances around the patient’s disappearance currently forms part of the investigation by the SAPS,” he said.

Approached for comment, police spokesperson Andre Traut would only say: “Kindly be advised that the death inquest case docket is still under investigation.”

Cape Times report

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