A woman gave birth at Park Station in the Joburg CBD after she was allegedly turned away from three hospitals because she is a foreigner with asylum.
Francine Ngalula Kalala, a Congolese was allegedly refused medical attention because of her because of her asylum status.
Francine went into labour at about 2am on thursday.
She and her husband arrived at Tshwane District Hospital but the authorities at the hospital told her they had no bed for her and that she was “not allowed to be admitted”.
She waited in the hospital’s entrance for hours, watching as other patients, who had arrived after her, were given treatment and attention.
South African constitution entitles asylum seekers to the same basic health services as South African citizens, which includes maternity care.
When they realised they would not receive treatment, Francine and her husband Serge drove to the neighbouring Steve Biko Hospital, where they were also denied medical care.
Angry, confused and desperate, Francine took the Gautrain to Joburg, where Serge’s brother’s wife, also a Congolese asylum seeker, had given birth.
Francine spent the 45-minute train ride to Joburg vomiting as the other passengers tried their best to assist her. But when the train pulled into Park Station at 7am, after Francine had been in labour for more than five hours, her infant daughter, Emmanuella, could not wait any longer.
The train doors opened and passengers immediately cried for help. Security guards quickly came, bringing boxes to create a semblance of privacy for Francine to give birth.
They immediately called an ambulance, but Francine delivered her baby on the station floor.
Twenty minutes later, an ambulance arrived and took Serge, Francine and Emmanuella to Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital – where they were again turned away.
Serge begged the hospital staff to at least wash Emmanuella or have a doctor look at her, as she was beginning to turn blue. But they were sent to Hillbrow Hospital, where, after eight hours, they finally received treatment.
With tears in her eyes she said this is worse than anything that happened to me in the DRC. Francine said she doesn’t want to stay in this country. That she does not feel welcome here.
Serge hopes their story can illuminate the discriminatory treatment of foreigners in South Africa, and hopes the next time a foreign woman needs medical help, she is not turned away.