Lawyers for Human Rights launched an urgent application in the North Gauteng High Court to secure life-saving treatment for the 12-year-old girl after she was allegedly refused treatment because she was undocumented.
Her family alleged staff at the Steve Biko Hospital had demanded a deposit of R250 000 from them before she could be treated and that a doctor had told them they should take the dying child back to her mother in Somalia.
The Health Minister and Gauteng health authorities denied that such a demand was made or that any doctor or state hospital had been negligent with regards to the girl’s treatment.
Judge Andre Louw yesterday confirmed a court order documenting that she would be admitted to the Steve Biko Hospital and would be assessed for payment like any other citizen would be in terms of a means test.
The court order also confirmed that the girl’s brother would co-operate with authorities in their investigation to determine the identity of the official who allegedly demanded a R250 000 deposit, or would withdraw his allegations if he refused.
Adv Soraya Hassim SC, appearing for the health authorities, told the court the girl had already been admitted to the Steve Biko Hospital yesterday morning for treatment, but that it did not mean she would receive an operation immediately.
Her health was presently also not of such a nature that she could be operated on immediately.
She had been placed on a list for surgery, along with 47 children that needed similar attention and her case would be dealt with like any other person, Hassim said.
The little girl travelled with other community members through Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique before arriving in South Africa to join her 26-year-old brother.
However, before she could apply for asylum she collapsed and was rushed tot he Kalafong Hospital in Atteridgeville, where he brother was told she was suffering from a serious heart condition and needed immediately surgery.
She was initially transferred to Steve Biko hospital but was sent back to Kalafong, allegedly because she was undocumented and her family could not pay the large deposit demanded.
Her brother said in court papers his sister was emaciated, unable to sit up or breathe on her own and he believed she was dying.