Dr Danie van der Walt will have to wait a few weeks before hearing judgment in the Witbank Magistrates’ Court in Mpumalanga, on a charge of culpable of homicide following the death of one of his patients after she gave birth, Witbank News reports.
For the deceased’s mother, Buyiselwa Maditjane, the 10-year fight to find answers about the circumstances that led to the death of her daughter, Pamela Daweti, will soon be a chapter she can close.
Pamela suffered cardiac arrest while in the intensive care unit in Life Cosmos Hospital shortly after she gave birth to a little girl in 2005.
The doctor sat motionless and listened as both the state and the defence completed their arguments from July 26 to 28.
Van der Walt used his right to remain silent. In his arguments, state prosecutor Francois Brand said the suspect failed to take the stand and dispute the evidence given by the witnesses.
Advocate Salie Joubert, Van der Walt’s legal representative, said the three state witnesses have failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that his client was guilty.
Magistrate Merlene Greyvenstein said the court was not ready for judgment and that she needed time to consult with Christiaan Sevenster, who is appointed as the expert assessor.
The case was postponed to September 22.
On March 7, Witbank News reported Maditjane testified in court that she took Pamela to the local gynaecologist.
Maditjane said during their last visit to the doctor on August 8, the doctor said the family could prepare for August 15 and he mentioned that the baby’s head was in the right position and suggested a caesarean, but the expectant mother wanted a natural birth.
Maditjane further testified that Van der Walt then changed the due date to August 11 and said he was going to induce Pamela. She said Pamela however insisted in giving birth naturally. Pamela was admitted at 6am.
“At 10pm Pamela was about five centimetres dilated and I was assured that both Pam and the baby were doing well, and that she was going to deliver naturally. Just after we were given that feedback, Dr Van der Walt came in, and he was under the influence,” Maditjane said.
She told the court that she was shocked by the way the doctor delivered her granddaughter at about 11.30pm.
When Pamela started vomiting after the delivery, Maditjane got concerned and called her pastor to come and pray. She claimed the doctor did not listen to her pleas to help Pamela after she vomited.
After the long night she went home to freshen up, only to be called at 6am and be told Pamela had died.
Joubert asked Maditjane if there were any signs that Dr Van der Walt was under the influence and he referred to an article that appeared in a newspaper four days later, wherein Maditjane said the doctor’s eyes were red.
“Did you know that the doctor had several cornea transplants, he has an eye problem and that would explain his red eyes,” Advocate Joubert slammed back.
He asked Maditjane if she was aware that Pamela signed a consent form that if there was any complications a caesarean would be done.
“I never interacted with the doctor then. Everyone encouraged Pamela to deliver naturally,” Maditjane answered.
Joubert referred to hospital documentation and said the doctor did not just deliver and walk away.
“The doctor prescribed Maxolon for the nausea,” he said.
Joubert said he would convey that Maditjane’s evidence was unreliable, so too was her version of the doctor being under the influence, the discussions of the caesarean, her role in the delivery room and the information about the actual delivery date.
Dr Christiaan Sevenster, who was appointed as the expert assessor to assist the magistrate, asked Maditjane if she was aware that Pamela refused a caesarean.
He pointed out that a note was made on hospital documents that the young mother refused a caesarean.
She took a few seconds before she softly answered: “She requested a natural birth and she did sign a consent form.”
– Caxton News Service