SA: Gauteng health dept probes why pregnant Zimbabwean teen was turned away from clinic

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  • A Tembisa clinic has allegedly refused to help a Zimbabwean teenager who wanted to terminate her pregnancy.
  • The 19-year-old is too scared to return to her home country to face her father.
  • The Gauteng health department says no one should be turned away from public hospitals.

Gauteng health authorities are looking into claims a clinic in the Ekurhuleni metro refused to help a Zimbabwean teenager terminate her pregnancy on the basis she was unable to produce the necessary immigration documents.

The 19-year-old’s family claim officials at Endayeni Clinic in Tembisa turned her away for not having proper documentation.

News24 spoke to her aunt, whose identity has been withheld to protect the teenager’s privacy.

After finding out she was pregnant, she advised her niece to return to Zimbabwe because she would not be able to afford to take care of a baby.

“She totally refused, saying she was scared that her father would beat her to death. She said her only option was to terminate the pregnancy, but I was against that,” the aunt said.

She was under the impression the teenager intended to head to a friend’s home to watch TV after they had spoken.

But the teenager went missing and after her disappearance was reported to the police, she returned home on Wednesday.

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Later, her aunt received a call from Lindiwe Mahlangu of the Positive Women’s Network (PWN) who was looking for the girl.

“I told her that she had gone missing. I was shocked to hear her say she met her outside Endayeni Clinic in Tembisa, where she wanted to terminate the pregnancy, but did not get assistance because she did not have [the necessary] documents,” the teen’s aunt said.

Mahlangu said she had met the girl at the entrance of Endayeni Clinic.

She recalled:

I asked her why she was standing outside the clinic because she had been there almost all day. She said she had been trying to get assistance with the termination of her pregnancy with no luck. She was allegedly told they could not help her because she did not have the right documents.


“I went inside the clinic and asked what was happening. They told me they couldn’t help her without documents and couldn’t terminate the pregnancy. They said I should take her to Esangweni Clinic.”

However at that clinic, they told her she was more than 10 weeks pregnant and referred her to a Johannesburg hospital for a more appropriate level of care to perform the termination.

Mahlangu added that it was not uncommon for public healthcare facilities to turn away immigrants seeking help.

“Our health facilities are so dysfunctional.

“There was a woman from Zimbabwe who wanted to remove an implant, and the public clinics refused to help because she did not have documents,” Mahlangu said.

She added it was sad the teenager did not get the help she needed.

“You cannot give birth to a child you don’t want. Giving birth in South African hospitals without documents costs about R6 000.”

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Gauteng health department spokesperson Motalatale Modiba said government public health facilities were not supposed to turn immigrants away unless they were being referred for a more appropriate level of care.

“No patient should be denied treatment because they do not have documentation and money, especially emergency patients.”

Modiba confirmed the patient was seen at Esangweni Clinic for medical reasons.

“After an assessment, it was found that she needed a higher level of care.

“She was then transferred to Tembisa Hospital for further medical attention and unfortunately she is yet to come to the hospital.”

In April, the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg upheld the rights of all pregnant and lactating women as well as children under six, irrespective of their nationalities and the status of their documentation, to access free health services at all public health establishments.

The court declared as unlawful Gauteng regulations and a policy the provincial health department had introduced in 2020, which denied free healthcare to undocumented pregnant, lactating, and young asylum seekers, or people affected by statelessness.

The department was ordered to amend its policy by 16 October 2023.