Isidingo actress Khabonina Qubeka is demanding R40 million from Johannesburg’s Life Bedford Gardens Hospital after it disposed of her placenta allegedly without her consent.
Speaking to SowetanLIVE, Qubeka claims she signed an agreement with the private hospital asking it to keep the placenta when she gave birth to her daughter Lwandle in 2018.
She and her husband Vuyisile Colossa cited cultural reasons for wanting to keep the placenta. However, they claim the hospital disposed of it despite their signed agreement.
‘The child’s blanket’
Qubeka, who is widely known for her role as Nina Zamdela in Isidingo, explained, “A placenta is the child’s blanket and culturally it benefits the child and the entire family.”
Colossa, who hails from the Tsonga community, added, “You can cleanse the child traditionally if something happens to them. Some other cultures they plant it and then plant a tree to represent the life of the child.”
The couple approached the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Commission), which is handling their case.
On Wednesday, Qubeka posted on Twitter about the case, “When you sign a legal document with a hospital to save your human tissue, it’s your human right, women’s right, cultural and civil right!”
Hospital denies liability
Qubeka and Colossa met the hospital’s management in November 2018 when they put forward their R40 million claim, but reportedly couldn’t reach an agreement after the hospital denied liability.
In a statement, the hospital claimed Qubeka failed to complete an affidavit for her placenta’s disposal “nor queried upon discharge the whereabouts of the placenta.”
“As a result, the hospital is obligated to dispose of the placenta in an ethical manner as required in terms of legislation,” it added.
Besides cultural reasons, placenta encapsulation has emerged as a business and a major reason mothers choose to keep their placenta.
According to placentaencapsulation.co.za, it involves dehydrating and grounding the placenta into fine powder and then placing the powder in capsules.
Some mothers believe ingesting these capsules helps them with postpartum healing and preserving their youthful looks.