By Nyaradzo Bakari
A 10-month-old baby from Hope Fountain in Umguza district on the outskirts of Bulawayo choked to death after salt water was forcibly administered on him to induce vomiting as prescribed by a prophet.
The baby had a problem with phlegm and a prophet from the Twelve Apostolic Church allegedly instructed the mother to administer warm salt water to the child to get rid of the phlegm.
The baby’s mother, Ms Langalakhe Hlabangana (17), said her son died on Monday morning, minutes after a fellow church member, Ms Nokuthula Ncube, forcibly administered the warm salt water as per instructions from their prophet.
The prophet’s name could, however, not be established.
Ms Hlabangana said after Ms Ncube forced her son to drink the water, he choked and suffered seizures before he died.
“I went to church on Saturday and the prophet told me that my son had phlegm and needed cleansing. The prophet assigned Ms Ncube to help me. I went to Ms Ncube’s house in the morning and she made salt water for the baby and tried to make him drink it,” said Ms Hlabangana.
“He didn’t seem to like the water but she forced it on him and he choked and had convulsions. After that he struggled to breathe. We rushed him to the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) but they pronounced him dead on our arrival”.
A shocked Ms Ncube told The Chronicle that she had no intention to kill the child as she was only following the prophet’s instructions.
“I was helping Langa as the prophet had instructed. So the prophet had told me to give the baby warm salt water to get rid of phlegm. I was using my hand to give the child the water but it seems some of it went through the nose and choked him,” she said tearfully.
Bulawayo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Precious Simango confirmed the incident and said investigations were underway.
“I can confirm that we are investigating a case of sudden death of a baby who was induced into vomiting and later died. We are waiting for a post-mortem to confirm what caused the death,” she said.
Mpilo Central Hospital clinical director Dr Solwayo Ngwenya discouraged people from inducing vomiting, saying it disturbs one’s bio-chemical system.
He urged members of the public to take their children to hospitals to avoid unnecessary loss of life.
“As doctors we don’t recommend induced vomiting for both children and adults because it disturbs the bio-chemical system. The act of inducing vomit may lead to sudden collapsing or death. We advise people to take their children to the hospital when they are not well,” said Dr Ngwenya.
“We have suction machines that can suck excess fluid so if you go to hospitals you will get help that is less risky. Medical treatment is recommended than home treatment because home treatments can cause unnecessary deaths.”
Suction machines or aspirators are tracheostomy-care devices used for removing obstructions from a person’s airway. The machines help pull out mucus, saliva, blood, secretions or other fluids clearing the airway for easy breathing. The Chronicle