Late cancer victim’s mum sticks to her ‘fleecing’ story

Ms Maureen Dube

Ms Maureen Dube

Thandeka Moyo, Health Reporter
A BULAWAYO woman whose disabled daughter, Phanankosi Dube (36), died while awaiting a cancer operation as some doctors at Mpilo Central Hospital sought to allegedly fleece them is sticking to her story saying she is willing to have the body exhumed for a post-mortem.

Mpilo clinical director Dr Solwayo Ngwenya yesterday also dismissed as false reports suggesting that the doctors who have been fingered in the scam had been cleared. The doctors allegedly said Dube must pay $10 000 for an operation that costs only $2 000.

Dr Ngwenya said investigations are underway.

Dube, who survived on begging and was the family’s breadwinner, died about two weeks ago while gasping for breath at her home in Makokoba suburb.

Health experts said the late Dube’s operation was supposed to cost at most $2 000 at a public health institution like Mpilo Central Hospital.

The Chronicle is in possession of WhatsApp chats in which one of the doctors communicated with the family and twice said $10 000 was needed for the operation. The same doctor who demanded the money took Dube’s pictures for them to use in her appeal for funds in The Chronicle before her death.

The patient, who lived in perpetual excruciating pain after her breasts had swollen to unmanageable proportions, died before she could raise the money.

Her mother, Ms Maureen Dube told The Chronicle that they signed for the body to undergo a port-mortem but were not advised of the results until she was buried. She said it seems that some people have been bribed to sweep the matter under the carpet taking advantage that the family was poor.

“It seems some people have been paid to sweep the matter under the carpet. These doctors should not take advantage of us as a family or our circumstances. They overcharged us and literally chased my critical daughter from a public hospital and that’s a fact we will stick to forever,” said Ms Dube.

“A few days after she died, police officers came here and took statements and that was the last of it. I suspect that someone somewhere was bribed to portray us as a bad, attention-seeking and desperate family.”

She said the family was eagerly waiting for the investigation findings from both Mpilo and the police as Phanankosi’s death was a result of doctors’ negligence.

“Up to date we are still waiting for the post mortem report and I doubt it takes this long because I am willing to have her exhumed if that’s what it will take for justice to prevail. I wonder why we are not getting any updates from those doing investigations but insults from people who want to divert this whole situation,” she said.

“I don’t understand why the same doctors who are supposed to be learned did not approach the Press to correct the $10 000 appeal that we made after they advised us when the first story was published. If indeed they were genuine they were to phone and correct us so the media gets the right figure. They only became worried about the figure when they were exposed and they must never take this issue lightly or look down on us because they did demand $10 000 to operate my daughter.”

She said the pictures they gave this paper were captured by the same doctors demanding $10 000 who were communicating with the family through WhatsApp before Phanankosi died.

Phanankosi’s family said when her health deteriorated, the doctors insisted that she should wait for June 19, the day of the operation when she was supposed to pay the $10 000 upfront for the procedure.

Mpilo instituted an investigation into the case involving five doctors about 21 days ago and officials still maintain that investigations are underway.

Dr Ngwenya said the five doctors had not yet been cleared.

“The investigations are on-going and hearings to determine what really happened are due to be held soon. As far as the hospital is concerned no conclusions have been reached as we await the formal written report of the hearings still to take place.”