Patient stabbed to death in hospital

Image: Tudsamalee

Threatening security guards with a knife, a man forced his way into Ngcobo’s All Saints Hospital on Sunday and “finished off” a patient admitted with a stab wound to the chest.

Incredibly, this is not the first time All Saints Hospital has seen such a fatal attack, although five years ago the aggressor was also patient. The latest killing has again raised concerns about the security at public hospitals in the Eastern Cape.

This weekend's assailant, according to health spokesperson  Sizwe Kupelo, entered the ward at about 2am on Sunday while medical staff were attending to the patient. 

“A knife-wielding man barged in and said he wanted to finish the patient off. There were 10 guards deployed at various points of the hospital, but the man forced his way through casualty security by drawing a knife,” Kupelo said.

Nurses and a doctor fled, and the guards failed to prevent the assailant from killing the patient.

“Police were called but the knifeman had run away by the time they  arrived. The knifeman’s identity is known,” Kupelo said.

Ngcobo police spokesperson captain Namhla Mdleleni said police were closing in on a 28-year-old suspect.

“It is alleged that the deceased man was waiting for his stab wounds to be stitched when the man came in and continued stabbing him to death. Police are following all leads."

Mdleleni called on members of the public with information that could lead to the man’s arrest to contact investigating officer Lieutenant-Colonel Matolweni on 082-302-7484.

Asked for someone who could comment, a hospital official at the reception desk transferred the Dispatch to a “top office” where a woman suggested contacting the hospital’s CEO, but she refused to divulge the CEO's name.

Ngcobo council speaker Skosana Mbolo reacted with shock to the killing.

“Apparently this took place around 2am. I’m hearing this from a person who doesn’t have all the information. We’re not sure if the family is aware of the incident at this stage. On that front, I’ve tried to contact the hospital’s boss but I couldn’t get hold of him on his cellphone. I’m shocked to hear this.”  

Mayor Siyabulela Zangqa asked to be called later and then could not be reached.

Kupelo said staff members who witnessed the horror attack would receive trauma counselling at Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha.

“Security measures are being reviewed at the hospital. But hospitals remain gun-free zones even though we have private security guards.”

In May 2014, a 27-year-old All Saints patient was killed when another patient struck him with an iron rod in an argument.

DA MPL and health portfolio committee member Jane Cowley said the latest killing was “indicative of the chaotic state of hospitals in our province”.

“This lawlessness means patients cannot even be safe in our hospitals. This particular hospital does have guards and this is a disgrace, quite honestly. Those guards were clearly not doing their duty if someone can walk in  and stab a patient who has already been stabbed. I’m really shocked.”

What will give hospital authorities even more sleepless nights is that the All Saints attack was not the only one in the province at the weekend.

At Uitenhage’s Provincial Hospital on Friday morning, a vigilant security guard thwarted what could have been another killing when he sneaked up behind someone who had pulled a gun from the holster of a police officer and disarmed him.

“The man is suspected to be mentally ill. The security guard deserves high praise for his bravery as he swiftly acted and stopped the man before he could shoot,” Kupelo said.

“Our facilities are under siege, with thugs seemingly targeting them because they know they are gun-free zones. Lawlessness cannot be tolerated. This is why we are calling on the justice system to impose the harshest sentences to those who target hospitals and clinics.”