Johannesburg – A Joburg mother had reservations about sending her autistic son to hospital and her worst nightmare happened when the boy was allegedly raped by another patient.
The mother said she worried if he was admitted to hospital, he would think she’d abandoned him. As a result of the 16-year-old boy’s mental health issues, she had no choice but to have him admitted to the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Joburg.
More than a month after his admission, the boy was allegedly raped by another patient in his ward. This is one of the three alleged rapes that have happened in Gauteng hospitals in the past month.
At the Stanza Bopape Community Health Centre in Pretoria, a male nurse was suspended and criminally charged after allegedly raping a male patient.
At Tara Hospital in Sandton it is alleged that a 15-year-old girl, who is an outpatient, was raped by another patient.
Gauteng Health Department spokesperson Kwara Kekana said the alleged incidents had been reported to the police and counselling had been offered to the victims.
“When he was admitted I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t sleep because it felt like I abandoned my son and worried whether he understood why he was in hospital. It was the first time he was away from me.
“People assured me that he was going to the safest place on earth and I should not worry,” the distraught mother said.
This is the third time the youngster had been admitted to hospital this year because of his mental health issues.
She said when he was admitted on July 30, she asked officials at the hospital who he would be sharing a ward with.
“I asked whom he was going to share the ward with because I wanted whoever shared with him to be someone who would understand him. Not everybody understands autism. Many people don’t understand that.
“I was told because he’s an adolescent he would stay alone. They said they don’t mix adolescents with other people.
“I was happy with that arrangement but later on I learnt he wasn’t alone. When I went to collect his clothes I realised they weren’t in his bag and the nurses said they might have been taken by the other patients. That’s when I leant he was not alone.”
She said because of Covid-19 regulations she wasn’t allowed to visit him.
“Sometimes I would see him from a distance and just wave,” she said.
Her worst nightmare happened on September 27 when hospital officials called her at night.
“When I got there they explained that he was sexually assaulted. My son is 16, he turned 16 on September 1. I’ve always been protective of him. Even when he is playing on the street, I am there because he doesn’t have language.
“He started talking at the age of seven but he is not fully conversant. Now the sickness made it worse. Before he got sick we could have a little conversation. But when he got sick, he stopped making sense,” the mom said.
She said because of this he was unable to explain what happened.
“He cannot explain what happened to him. “Physically he is not okay but I don’t know emotionally because he can’t say anything,” she said.
Since the abuse, the mom said she now visited him daily. What breaks her heart even more is that before the alleged assault, her son was due to be discharged from hospital.
“Before the incident, they explained to me that they were going to discharge him because he was getting better. They now said they have to keep him longer to monitor him.”
She said she had been told that the patient who allegedly raped her son had been moved to another hospital.