Joburg mom details finding daughter dead, unattended at Helen Joseph Hospital

A Johannesburg mother claims that staff at the Helen Joseph Hospital ignored her daughter, ending in her finding her dead in the same spot she had left her.

Helen Joseph Hospital. Picture: Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG - A Johannesburg mother has detailed her harrowing ordeal after finding her daughter dead in the same spot she had left her - in a hospital waiting area - more than 24 hours after seeking help from staff.

On Monday, Nqobile Dube rushed her critically ill daughter, 26-year-old Sichelesile, to the Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg and by late Tuesday afternoon she had passed away, still sitting in her wheelchair with her mouth and eyes wide open.

Adding to the trauma, Dube told Eyewitness News, was that not a single staff member seemed to notice until she made them aware of the death.

“I went to call a sister to help me [and] she said she can’t [because] she's busy. I tried to lift her up but she was gone,” Dube said between long, painful breaths as she recalled her daughter’s final hours.

This is the exact spot where Nqobile Dube found her daughter dead, more than 24 hours later, waiting to be assisted.

Sichelesile had been referred to the Helen Joseph Hospital, severely ill with swollen legs and unable to eat.

Dube explained that they had arrived at lunchtime, but it was hours later - at around 9pm - that her daughter was put on a drip and left in a wheelchair.

She returned after 5pm on Tuesday and was the first to notice that her daughter was unresponsive and was, in fact, in the exact spot where she had left her the day before.

“I was hoping that she would wake up. The sister said, ‘can't you see that I’m busy’. She was busy writing - I even took a photo of her. I told her that this is a serious issue, but they didn’t come. I tried to lift my daughter then I saw her neck was stiff, she was cold,” she said.

Nqobile Dube took a picture of the nurse that ignored her when she was asking for help.


Dube, still processing the death of her partner and Sichelesile’s father just two weeks ago, said she was told that the hospital was battling with an influx of patients due to COVID.

“The doctor came to talk to me, and he said, ‘no mam, you must understand we are busy, there is COVID’. I even told them that [COVID] is not an excuse”.

Helen Joseph Hospital chief executive, Dr Relebohile Ncha, told Eyewitness News that an internal investigation was under way.

“They failed me totally - they failed my child. There will be cameras [showing] me trying to wake up my child. I didn’t believe that she is dead,” Dube said.

She claimed hospital staff were hostile towards her when she begged for help and a doctor confirmed her daughter’s death just minutes later.

VIDEO: Mother weeps after finding daughter dead in hospital waiting room

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