KWAZULU-Natal Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu has hailed as a hero a 31 year-old taxi driver who helped a pregnant woman give birth in his taxi near Nongoma last night.

MEC Simelane-Zulu has also ordered an investigation into allegations of rude and improper conduct by nurses at Buxedene Clinic, who allegedly turned the pregnant mother away.

Mr Nhlonipho Zulu, who was travelling from Richard’s Bay to Nongoma, was about to finish his shift when an 8 month pregnant passenger informed him that she suspected she was about to go into labour.

Travelling between Nongoma and Hlabisa with two other passengers at the time, the panic-stricken taxi driver dropped off the patients and rushed the pregnant mother, in her early 20s, to the nearest clinic.

However, upon examining her, the nurses allegedly disputed that she was about to go into labour.

They have also been accused of not only being dismissive and using rude language, but also refusing to call an ambulance, instead telling the taxi driver to take the pregnant woman to Benedictine Hospital about 30km away.

Mr Zulu recalled how the mother, now crying hysterically, begged him to stop the taxi and help her give birth.

“I was trying to ignore her pleas, and instead get her to hospital. But she let out a loud cry and said, ‘My baby is coming out… My baby is coming out… I can feel the head…’ She was literally begging me to stop and help her.”

He stopped the taxi, and switched on the internal lights near the sliding door.

“I made her lie on the seat, and indeed I could see the baby’s head coming out. She asked me if I had a knife or pair of scissors so I could cut her, so that the baby could come out, because she kept on pushing, yet it wouldn’t.”

She kept pushing until the baby eventually came out.

“I caught the baby and placed it on the seat. I asked her to sit still, and ensure that the baby doesn’t fall.”

Zulu drove for another kilometre, until the he saw a few local homesteads, which he rushed to, to seek help.

“Fortunately, there were some elders who were able to cut the umbilical cord. By the time I took her to hospital, the baby was wrapped up in a blanket.”

The Department has since established that both mother and baby are in a stable condition at Benedictine Hospital.

MEC Simelane-Zulu said: “What Mr Zulu did is nothing short of heroic. He could have just left her at the clinic and continued minding his own business. But instead, he forgot about all his commitments and stayed the course until the very end. And, anything could have happened while he was rushing her to hospital, even a possible loss of life. We are also thankful to the family that responded to his further efforts for help after he had helped deliver the baby.

“That said, I am extremely concerned by this turn of events. Clearly, something has gone horribly wrong when a person in such as delicate life-and-death situation is subjected to this kind of treatment. Front line healthcare workers must always remember that they have a responsibility to save lives. I have immediately instructed the Head of Department, Dr Sandile Tshabalala, to provide an urgent report that must address the alleged misconduct in this case, and indicate what consequence management measures will be applied.”

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