Mum questions why she was not told her son, who allegedly committed suicide at RK Khan Hospital, was placed in isolation

Keegan Govender, 31, of Unit 5, was admitted to the hospital on October 29. On November 7, he was found dead

Keegan Govender

Published Dec 3, 2023


A CHATSWORTH mother is seeking answers after her schizophrenic son was allegedly found hanged in an isolation ward at RK Khan Hospital, while another family has alleged mistreatment by staff.

Keegan Govender, 31, of Unit 5, was admitted to the hospital on October 29. On November 7, he was found dead.

His mother, Charmaine Govender, is seeking answers as she does not believe he would have ended his life. She has reported the matter to the police.

Govender said that during a hospital visit on November 5, Keegan claimed that a nurse, who was treating him, had allegedly stolen medical supplies from the ward.

"My son told me this in the presence of the nurse. From that day on, this nurse began mistreating Keegan and was very rude to me."

She claimed that Keegan was afraid for his safety.

"When I was leaving the hospital, my son said he would be strip searched once I was gone. However, I reassured him that the hospital was there to help him. I promised him that no harm would come to him."

Govender said on the morning of November 8 she got a call to go to the hospital.

"I was told that something was wrong with Keegan. I could not go to the hospital straight away because I work in Umhlanga. My niece went instead. She arrived at the hospital at 10am. She saw the male nurse. He was rude and told her to sit on a chair and wait for Keegan's doctor. My niece was anxious at the time and she continued to ask the nurse where Keegan was but he just ignored her."

Govender said after a few minutes, the doctor arrived and then two nurses.

"They took her into a room and explained to her that the day before Keegan was restless and anxious, and walking in and out of the kitchen, handling people’s bags, so they had to put him into an isolation room. When he was in this room, he continued to bang on the door for them to let him out but they did not.

"At some point, the nurse looked through the window and saw Keegan in an awkward sitting position, so they opened the door and found that he had hanged himself with a blanket."

Govender said the doctor told her niece that the staff had to cut him down and that they moved him to casualty and tried to resuscitate him.

"I arrived at the hospital at 11am and was told the same thing. My response to her was, why didn't you inform me that you were putting him in isolation.”

Govender said she did not understand how Keegan's behaviour had changed because the day before, the doctor told her that he was excited to return home and be with his children.

"He knew he he was coming home on that day. I don't believe my son ended his life."

Keegan was a father of two little girls, aged 7 and 6 months old.

"What hurts the most is that I could not even see his body at the hospital because it was already in a body bag. As a mother, I am in so much pain. I am trying to be strong for his children. He loved them so much and he would never have ended his life. There is something that the hospital is not telling us. I will not stop until I get justice for my son and his children. I am doing it for them. The hospital is supposed to help people get better, not mistreat them."

Govender met with the hospital on Thursday to discuss the matter.

“I was not satisfied with the meeting and I will be in touch with my lawyer in order to take this matter forward.”

Two days after Keegan's death, a relative of another patient from Bayview in Chatsworth alleged mistreatment from the staff of the hospital.

Alvina Kooblal took her mum, Navina, 61, to the hospital's emergency unit on November 10.

She said her mom had previously suffered a stroke and was being treated for it.

"She was feeling weak and dehydrated so I took her to her general practitioner. He gave us a letter to go to the hospital. The letter contained information on my mum's condition and what treatment was needed for her. I arrived at the emergency unit at 2pm and was told to join the line. My mum was feeling weak and could not stand, so I made her sit on a chair."

Kooblal said they were third in line.

"While in line, another lady told me that she had been waiting for assistance since 11am. Minutes later, a man, whose wife had a heart condition, came through for urgent treatment and was told to join the queue. My poor mother kept asking me if anyone could give her a drip as she was feeling so sick. I tried to get help but I was told to wait. All I could do was give her water to help her stay hydrated."

She claimed that sometime after 5pm, a nurse tested her mother's blood pressure.

"After the test, I was told to make a file for her and then do a test to check her sugar levels. When I got back to the emergency unit after making the file, I asked about the test and was ignored. I was then told to get an ECG (electrocardiogram) test done. This was done after a two hour wait. A security guard took the file to the doctor’s room where we had to wait to be called in."

Kooblal claimed that while waiting, two metro police officers arrived at the emergency room to do blood tests for a drunk man.

"The nurses left the patients to attend to the police officers. They were laughing and joking with the police officers and it took 30 minutes to do the test. When the doctor saw my mum, she was given rehydrate and told to return on November 13. We only left the hospital at 8pm.”

She said her mum remained sick and they had to take her to a private hospital.

"I have reported the matter to the hospital because this is an emergency room. For someone to be sent there means they need urgent care. Staff are dealing with elderly and sick people and are not sympathetic to their condition. The security was absolutely rude to people. There is no urgency in anything there. It's unacceptable. I am still shocked at the way this hospital is run."

Ntokozo Maphisa, the spokesperson for the KZN Department of Health, said: "Without prejudice, the department wishes to convey its condolences to the bereaved family on the passing away of their loved one."

She said Keegan’s matter was reported to the Chatsworth SAPS and as such, the department was unable to comment further.

"We would like to allow the authorities to conduct their work unhindered. The department can nevertheless indicate that hospital management has made several attempts to convene a redress meeting with the relevant family, but they have declined and indicated that they are taking the legal route."

The department did not comment on Kooblal's complaint.


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