29/12/2017 12:50 SAST | Updated 29/12/2017 13:00 SAST

Baby Letoya May Have Died At Mboro's Church, But The Health System Failed Her

Here's why Mboro cannot be solely blamed for the death of a three-year-old at his church.

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KATLEHONG, SOUTH AFRICA JANUARY 29: (SOUTH AFRICA OUT): Prophet Paseka Mboro Motsoeneng prays for Relebogile Ndlovu and her family during a special service at the Incredible Happenings Ministries Church on January 29, 2017 in Katlehong, South Africa. The Ndlovu family opted for the help of Motsoeneng Pastor Mboro as he is affectionately known, after they couldnt get medical healing for the ailing 18-year-old daughter. (Photo by Lucky Nxumalo/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)


The death of a child at controversial pastor Paseka "Prophet Mboro" Motsoeneng's church exposes the lack of dignity concerning healthcare in South Africa.

Everyone seems to want to pin the blame on the notorious pastor –– however, a close assessment of the matter suggests that negligence among the healthcare professionals involved is potentially also a factor in the child's death.

In the statement that is circulating on social media by Nontombi Gwam, the mother of deceased three-year-old Letoya Gwam, it is clear that there were various attempts to save the child's life –– and that Mboro was her last, desperate option.

Even when she went to the church, it was in the hope that the congregation would assist in calling an ambulance, in addition to asking the pastor to pray for the child.

Read: Mboro: 'There is nothing more I could've done.'

She describes her visit to a clinic, at which she received very little attention from the nurses.

On her first attempt to receive medical attention for her child Letoya on December 23, she was told by nurses that "there were no drips to assist the child" –– indicating both a shortage of resources and a low sense of urgency.

According the Gwam, these nurses were more interested in their conversation than helping her child.

No nurse examined the child to try to identify the cause of her diarrhoea, even though she defecated copiously at the clinic; the nurses' top priority appears to have been getting her mother to clean up the mess.

Gwam's version is a chronicle of indifference to patient needs by public servants that we have seen before in Gauteng's public healthcare, also with tragic consequences.

And yes, Mboro is considered by many to be charlatan, who claims to have "prayed the toddler back to life". However, his profession does not require him to be medically effective; that of an EMS paramedic does.

We cannot ignore the role allegedly played in the child's death by the responding paramedic –– who, according to Gwam, had no sense of urgency.

Gwam claims that despite numerous requests that the paramedic attend to the child inside the church, she refused, despite being aware of the severity of the matter.

The full story is still emerging, but it appears the paramedic was more concerned with Mboro's involvement –– and his alleged assault on her –– than with what should have been her top priority on the job –– saving a life.

The healthcare workers involved have yet to present their side of this story in public. However, both Mboro and the paramedic are now facing charges, so it will be up to the courts to see that justice is served.

The Gauteng health department has also promised an investigation, and appropriate action if Gwam's allegations are found to be true.