Steps against nurses who abandon young victim


Two nurses from the Motherwell NU 11 clinic in Gqeberha have been reported to the South African Nursing Council (SARV) for negligence, after a damning report revealed that the death of a 15-year-old rape victim in September last year may have been attributed to them can be.

RNews earlier reported that several government departments are already investigating after Zenizole Vena, who was allegedly raped by two men, was allegedly turned away from the Motherwell NU 11 clinic in order to file a case at the police station first. However, she died soon after.

The DA has prof. Taole Mokoena, the health ombudsman, is calling for an investigation into allegations that two nurses failed to provide Zenizole with the necessary care and that this led to her untimely death.

According to the police’s information, the girl left her home on September 17 to attend an event at her school. However, she did not return home, nor was she reported missing to the police.

Four days later, on September 21, a 58-year-old woman noticed Zenizole in the street. The teenager appeared to be sick and crying.

Col. Police spokesperson Priscilla Naidu says Zenizole was allegedly raped by two men known to her.

“The woman took her to the Motherwell NU 11 clinic.”

On Tuesday, Mokoena announced the findings of the investigation which established that Zenizole was turned away by healthcare workers at the clinic.

“The allegation that Zenizole was denied care at the Motherwell NU 11 clinic has been substantiated and confirmed based on information gathered during the investigation,” said Mokoena.

“It was also established that the two nurses did not arrange transport to take the elderly escort and the victim to the police station – or called the police – to take over the case.

“They also failed to request her medical history so that she could be referred to a doctor.”

Mokoena made a number of recommendations in the report. This includes:

  • Disciplinary inquiries against both nurses;
  • Referral of the nurses to the South African Nursing Council (SARV) for an investigation regarding professional misconduct;
  • Health care workers should undergo training in adult primary care (APC) 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 the Motherwell NU 11 clinic.

Mokoena also recommended that police officers dealing with members of the public be trained in first aid or have 24-hour access to emergency personnel.

The investigation revealed additional findings, such as the failure of Motherwell Police Station’s Community Service Center to assist Zenizole upon her arrival at the charging station.

“At the station, Zenizole was told to wait. She was helped after an hour and a half. By this time she was already having seizures and foaming at the mouth. She was later found dead on the floor in the charge office.”

Mokoena says the investigation was conducted through thorough analysis of information and documentary evidence received from the Motherwell NU 11 clinic, the Eastern Cape Provincial Department of Health (ECDoH), Nelson Mandela Bay District Health (NMBDH), as well as through site visits and interviews with relevant staff.

He says it is extremely disturbing that a basic human instinct – to help someone in need, especially a child – does not seem to exist at the Motherwell police station.

“Based on the evidence obtained, it can be concluded that Zenizole was not cared for in a manner commensurate with the nature and severity of her health condition at the Motherwell NU 11 clinic.”

The complaint was lodged against the Motherwell NU 11 clinic in September 2022 by Michele Clarke, the DA’s spokesperson on health.

The Minister of Health, Joe Phaahla, said in his remarks that it is totally unacceptable for anyone to be denied healthcare.

The DA once again expressed its deepest condolences to Zenizole’s family.

“Her life was precious and she was let down by the staff at the Motherwell NU 11 clinic. She was abandoned by staff who promised to provide quality healthcare but failed to do so,” says Clarke.

“We hope that Mokoena’s report and Zenizole’s tragic story will be a lesson for all healthcare workers nationwide to go the extra mile for every patient.

“Healthcare workers must ensure at all times that they know the correct procedure to properly care for all patients, including victims of gender-based violence and feminicide (GBVF).

“We hope that these nurses’ failures will be the last of their kind in South Africa.”