Motherwell nurses failed Zenizole Vena

Issued by Michele Clarke MP – DA Shadow Minister of Health
13 Dec 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Michele Clarke MP 

The Health Ombud Prof Taole Mokoena’s report on the death of Zenizole Vena, the 15-year-old girl who tragically died in September last year at the Motherwell police station after escaping her alleged rapists, is a step in the right direction. The DA requested the Health Ombud to investigate allegations that two nurses at the Motherwell Clinic in Gqeberha failed to provide her with the necessary care before referring her to the local police.

The Health Ombud has found that the two nurses at Motherwell Clinic failed to give the Zenizole the urgent attention required for patients after they have been raped or sexually assaulted. They also failed to take her history in order for her to be referred to a doctor, and in failing to care for Zenizole, the nurses failed to “take the total health of Ms. Z Vena into her consideration and maintain the utmost respect for human life…”

The Health Ombud made a number of recommendations including:

  • Disciplinary inquiries against both nurses;
  • Referring both nurses to the South African Nursing Council (SANC) for an investigation regarding professional misconduct;
  • Healthcare workers must undergo Adult Primary Care (APC) Training to ensure their effective management of sexual assault cases;
  • The development of a standard operating procedure for the management of sexual assault cases, as well as in-service training for the staff at Motherwell NU 11 Clinic.

The Health Ombud further recommended that all South African Police Service (SAPS) employees engaging with the public be trained in first aid or have physical access to first responders 24 hours a day.

Furthermore, Zenizole’s family should be assisted with counselling sessions, as well as transport to the sessions.

The DA again extends our sincere condolences to Zenizole’s family. Her life was precious and should have been treated as such by the Motherwell Clinic personnel who pledged to provide quality to health care but failed to do so.

We hope that the Health Ombud’s report and Zenizole’s story will be a lesson to all health care workers across the country to go the extra mile for every patient, and to ensure that they know the correct procedure to properly care for all patients, including victims of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF). We hope these nurses’ failure of Zenizole be the last of its kind in South Africa.

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