By A Correspondent- Communities have called for improved security at waiting mothers’ shelters following reports of the rap_ing of a teenager at Manama Mission Hospital and other women that were robbed at Matobo District Hospital waiting mothers’ shelter in Matabeleland South Province.
A nine months preg_nant teenager was rap_ed by an unknown suspect at Manama Mission Hospital waiting mothers’ shelter in June.
The culprit was armed with a knife and gained access into the shelter through an unlocked door at night. The expectant mothers fled the scene, but the suspect caught up with the teenager, whom he dragged to a bushy area where he assaulted and rap_ed her several times overnight.
The teenager sustained a broken arm during the attack.
At Matobo District Hospital, a suspect broke into the waiting mothers’ shelter and tried to rap_e one woman before robbing several women of their belongings.
There have also been reports of rap_e and robberies at waiting mothers’ shelters and maternity wards in the past.
A Chronicle news crew visited Manama Mission Hospital and spoke to some expectant mothers, who expressed concern at the absence of security at the shelter.
Ms Thandolwenkosi Ndlovu from Magaya Village said the rap_e incident has left her unsettled at the shelter.
“While I’m here at the waiting mothers’ shelter, I’m afraid that the culprit might strike again and attack us. I heard that someone invaded the shelter, chased the women who were there and went on to rap_e one of them. Maybe if the culprit had been arrested it could have been better, but the incident has shown that we are at risk as expectant mothers,” she said.
Ms Lydia Ncube said although there were now security guards at the shelter, they were not efficient.
“There are some security people who guard the shelter, but I don’t have faith in them because sometimes they arrive way after 10PM, which means that before that we will be exposed. They won’t be around during some nights as well. We once looked for the security guard when one of the ladies went into labour, but we couldn’t locate any,” Ms Ncube said.
Ms Tibelo Ngulube of Magaya Village said the rap_e incident was concerning to her and felt the safety of all female patients at the hospital was at stake, as the culprit could strike at any time due to lax security.
Ms Ngulube said as long as the culprit was still on the loose, the security of all women at the shelter and in the community remains highly compromised.
Makwati Village head Ms Adrina Moyo said her young sister is one of the women that managed to evade the rap_e attack.
“My young sister was at the waiting mothers’ shelter when the incident occurred. She said the rap_ist pushed open the door while they were sleeping and brandished a knife and threatened to stab them and they all fled from the room. He pursued them and from there my sister doesn’t know what happened. When they went back to the shelter, they noticed that one person was missing. Something needs to be done to ensure the safety of women because as it is, some people are afraid to sleep at the shelter,” she said.
Andrew Moyo, a neighbourhood watch committee member, said the suspected rap_ist is from a neighbouring ward and they had tried to track him down in vain.
Matabeleland South Provincial Medical Director, Dr Rudo Chikodzore, recently told a meeting that each district had been tasked to identify security gaps in each health facilities and propose how best they can be addressed.
“Some facilities need a perimeter fence to secure the waiting mothers’ shelter, some need locks and other security features. We have asked the District Medical Officers to meet with their teams and identify security gaps and suggest how they can be addressed,” she said.
During a recent visit to Manama Mission Hospital, Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care Dr John Mangwiro said there was a need for health facilities to improve their security as they were putting the lives of patients at risk.-statemedia