A KwaZulu-Natal taxi driver has been hailed as a “hero” after he helped a woman give birth in his taxi on Wednesday.
According to the provincial health department, the 31-year-old taxi driver, Nhlonipho Zulu, was about to finish his shift when an eight-month pregnant passenger told him she suspected she was about to go into labour.
Zulu was travelling between Nongoma and Hlabisa at the time and had to drop off two other passengers before rushing the pregnant mother, in her early 20s, to the nearest clinic.
However, upon examining her, nurses allegedly disputed that she was about to go into labour.
They stand accused of not only being dismissive and using rude language, but also refusing to call an ambulance, instead telling the taxi driver to take the pregnant woman to Benedictine Hospital about 30km away. The KZN health department is aware of the allegations and has ordered an investigation.
Zulu recalled how the hysterical mother begged him to stop the taxi and help her give birth.
“I was trying to ignore her pleas, and instead get her to hospital. But she let out a loud cry and said, ‘My baby is coming out … my baby is coming out … I can feel the head…’ She was literally begging me to stop and help her.”
Zulu said he stopped the taxi, and switched on the internal lights near the sliding door.
“I made her lie on the seat, and indeed I could see the baby’s head coming out. She asked me if I had a knife or pair of scissors so I could cut her, so that the baby could come out, because she kept on pushing, yet it wouldn’t.”
However, she kept pushing until the baby eventually emerged.
“I caught the baby and placed it on the seat. I asked her to sit still and ensure that the baby did not fall.”
Zulu drove for another kilometre, until he saw a few local homesteads, where he sought help.
“Fortunately, there were some elders who were able to cut the umbilical cord. By the time I took her to hospital, the baby was wrapped up in a blanket.”
The department said both mother and baby are in a stable condition at Benedictine Hospital.
Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu has ordered an investigation into the allegations of rude and improper conduct by nurses at Buxedene Clinic, who allegedly turned the pregnant mother away.
“ I am extremely concerned by this turn of events,” she said. “Clearly, something has gone horribly wrong when a person in such a delicate life-and-death situation is subjected to this kind of treatment.
“Frontline health-care workers must always remember that they have a responsibility to save lives.
“I have instructed the head of department, Dr Sandile Tshabalala, to provide an urgent report that must address the alleged misconduct in this case, and indicate what consequence management measures will be applied.”
She lauded Zulu’s efforts.
“What Mr Zulu did is nothing short of heroic. He could have just left her at the clinic and continued minding his own business.
“But instead, he forgot about all his commitments and stayed the course until the very end.
“And, anything could have happened while he was rushing her to hospital, even a possible loss of life.
“We are also thankful to the family that responded to his further efforts for help, after he had helped deliver the baby,” said Simelane-Zulu.