MOLIEHI Maria Sithole, also known as Gosiame Thamara and her husband, Teboho Tsotetsi, have turned to the Johannesburg High Court for an order on an urgent basis to force the government to release her from a hospital where they say she is being held against her will.
In court papers the couple’s lawyer, Refiloe Mokoena, of Refilwe Mokoena Attorneys, said that Sithole was being held illegally by the Gauteng Department of Social Development because she was detained by the police without a court order or any criminal case against her.
Sithole, who is now being held involuntarily at Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital, was admitted to Tembisa Hospital on June 18 for observation through an arrangement by social workers attached to the Gauteng Department of Social Development following reports about her having given birth to decuplets on June 7.
Sithole and Tsotetsi are listed as the first and second applicants respectively in the court papers filed last week and obtained by Independent Media’s investigations unit.
Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu, Police Minister Bheki Cele, Gauteng Health MEC Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi, her social development counterpart, Morakane Mosupyoe, and Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina are cited as respondents.
In her court papers Mokoena, who accuses various government departments of gross violations of Sithole’s rights, said that the action constituted an unjustifiable breach of Sithole’s right to freedom of movement and liberty, and her right to refuse medical treatment.
“I was not allowed to speak to (Sithole) as the police informed me that they had been instructed by the Department of Social Development to hand (her) over to them.
“The police officials said they were acting on the instructions of the Department of Social Development and they refused to release the first applicant from their custody,” said Mokoena in the court papers.
Officials from the Gauteng Department of Social Development arrived at the Chloorkop Police Station at about 8.30am and the police handed Sithole over to them and they consulted with her in the open parking area until about noon, said Mokoena said.
“At approximately 12.05, (Sithole) came to me while I was sitting and waiting in the car and she told me that the officials from Social Development wanted to take her to a place of safety and reunite her with her 6-year-old twin boys, whom they had already taken to a place of safety without her consent. She told me that she had refused to go with them. While she was talking to me, one of the police whisked her away from me and took her back to the officials from the Social Development Department.”
Tsotetsi said in the same court papers that he was shocked at the news that Sithole had been apprehended and immediately instructed Mokoena to proceed to the Chloorkop Police Station near Midrand to assist her.
“At approximately 8pm, my attorney … informed me that despite her objection, the police had handed my wife over to the Social Development Department and that the latter had taken my wife to the Tembisa Hospital as an involuntary mental health-care patient.” According to a statement by the Gauteng Department of Social Development, Sithole was initially meant to be kept at Tembisa Hospital for 72 hours, which lapsed on June 22.
“Upon completing their preliminary examination on Monday, June 21, 2021, her doctors recommended that she be kept at the hospital for a further seven days for further observation, in accordance with the Mental Healthcare Act,” reads the statement.
When contacted for comment, the various hospitals’ officials referred all communications to Kwara Kekana, the spokesperson for the MEC of Health in Gauteng.
Kekana said there would be no comment further than the statement released by the Gauteng government, which states that Sithole was admitted to Tembisa hospital on June 18, and various medical tests were conducted on her to determine her state of health.
The department said it still stands by its statement.
Mokoena said that while the state attorneys served them with notice to oppose the application, nothing had been filed late yesterday.
The case was scheduled to be heard in the South Gauteng High Court today.