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Motsoaledi counsels caution over 'decapitated' baby birth

Following a media furore over a Boksburg baby "born in three separate parts", Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has urged the public to wait for the results of a medical inquiry, before rushing to conclusions.

eNCA reports that the 19-year-old Kagiso Kgatla accuses Tambo Memorial Hospital in Boksburg of medical negligence.

During labour, only her baby boy's head came out, having been severed from his body. “A doctor came and said I should push. I pushed and pushed. Nothing. He inserted his hands and said I should try again but still there was nothing. He also said he could see the baby’s head. Then he asked for those big spoons. That’s when my baby’s head came out, but only the head. The body remained inside”, Kgatla is quoted in the report as saying.

Kgatla – who was 6 months pregnant at the time – said doctors had informed her the baby had some abnormalities. But she was prepared for bringing up a child with difficulties.


The Gauteng Health Department said that it had dispatched the provincial patients' safety team to the Tambo Memorial Hospital to investigate how Kgatla gave birth to a "decapitated" baby. The Times reports that this is according to department spokesperson Lesemang Matuka said the team would thoroughly investigate the matter and "obtain facts from the medical team which was involved in this incident". "Upon completion of the investigation, the department will communicate the outcomes and the recommendations. If necessary, disciplinary measures will be instituted. The hospital continues to offer counselling support to the patient and her family to help them deal with this unfortunate incident," Matuka said.

The report says an incident which had a similar tragic ending was recorded in the UK five years ago, when a doctor at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee performed the delivery of a baby for a first-time mother on 24 March 2014.

Reports noted that the baby's head became trapped during the birth and various techniques were tried to free it, but during this his "head became detached from his body". That baby had died before this happened. It was reported that a consultant gynaecologist, Vaishnavy Vilvanathan Laxman, failed to perform an emergency caesarean section on a 30-year-old mother.

At the time, the Medical Practitioners' Tribunal Service (MTPS) panel said the only "appropriate course" was a caesarean section. But, the report says, the tribunal later cleared Laxman of serious misconduct and said her fitness to practise was not impaired.

Head of obstetrics at Tambo Memorial Hospital, Dr Gilbert Anyetei, said the woman was in labour but the baby’s head was not crowning. "Normally, when the head is not crowning we assist. We call it assisted delivery. In this particular instance … the head popped out on its own and we tried to see if the rest of the body would follow, but it didn't," Anyetei is quoted in the report as saying. "We decided to take her to theatre to deliver the rest of the body."

The report said hospital CEO Vis Naidoo declined a request for a formal interview, saying the matter was now "sub judice".


Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has urged the public to refrain from making judgement calls about the incident, reports The Times.

Motsoaledi said he had spoken to Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa, but was waiting for the medical report as parts of the story didn’t make sense. "You, as journalists, are making a judgement call on something that is maybe not within your field. We need a medical report. We need to call experts.

"I am waiting for report. Me and you do not know the facts," he is quoted in the report as saying.


The Democratic Alliance (DA) is calling for an independent investigation. News24 reports that the DA has questioned why Kgatla’s case was not treated as an emergency and a caesarean section wasn't performed.

"We also need to know what is being done about overcrowded conditions at the hospital's 30-bed neonatal ward. Baby deaths at this ward increased alarmingly last year when expectant mothers were diverted there in large numbers because the neonatal ward at the Thelle Mogoerane Hospital in Vosloorus was closed after a Klebsiella outbreak," DA spokesperson for health Jack Bloom said in the report.

He concluded that the public needs to be assured the ward is properly staffed and equipped.

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[link url=""]The Times report[/link]
[link url=""]The Times[/link]
[link url=""]News24 report[/link]

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