Mpilo doctors exposed. . . Overcharge breast cancer patient, demand $10k for $2k op

Dr Solwayo Ngwenya

Dr Solwayo Ngwenya

Thandeka Moyo, Health Reporter
MPILO Central Hospital doctors have been exposed for allegedly attempting to swindle a disabled breast cancer patient by demanding $10 000 for an operation to remove her breasts.

The same doctors are accused of refusing to admit her insisting on payment of the money first.

Health experts said the late Ms Phanankosi Dube’s operation was supposed to cost at most $2 000 at a public health institution like Mpilo.

Ms Dube’s family said when her health condition deteriorated, the doctors insisted that she should wait for June 19 the day of the operation when she was supposed to pay the $10 000 for the operation.

The late Ms Dube (36) who lived on begging and was the family’s breadwinner, died last Saturday while gasping for breath at her home in Makokoba suburb.

The Chronicle is in possession of a WhatsApp conversation between the late woman’s cousin and one of the doctors in which he told him twice that $10 000 was needed for the operation.

The late cancer patient’s family launched an appeal in The Chronicle last week to raise the $10 000 and she died days after three donors had expressed willingness to assist her.

The late Ms Phanankosi Dube’

The late Ms Phanankosi Dube

After  the publication of her story, a doctor from Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in Harare, phoned the family and advised that the operation could be done at the Harare hospital for less than $2 000.

One of the donors also queried the amount and asked Ms Dube’s family to contact the accounts department at Mpilo to verify the amount the doctors were demanding.

Mpilo Central Hospital clinical director Dr Solwayo Ngwenya said the minimum cost for operating one breast is $754.

“The minimum cost for breast cancer operation for one breast is $754. The patient pays $12 consultation fee, $30 ward deposit and $200 theatre fee and the patient is given the bill showing the balance after the operation which the patient can pay later. Non-cancer breast operation fee is $300 for one breast,” said Dr Ngwenya.

He said since Mpilo is a public hospital, patients are not turned away for not having the money to pay but are instead treated and the issue of payment is addressed later.

Dr Ngwenya said Ms Dube’s family was supposed to approach his office when authorities at the hospital wanted to discharge her before she fully recovered.

He said he could not comment on the $10 000 doctors are alleged to have demanded because the hospital does not charge such outrageous amounts.

Dr Ngwenya said members of the public should desist from dealing privately with staff at the hospital because it was a public hospital.

“The issue of costs and payments are dealt with by the hospital’s  accounts department and not doctors,” he said.

Ms Dube’s mother, Ms Maureen Dube said her daughter died a painful death and blamed the hospital authorities for prematurely discharging her.

“We took her to the hospital on May 19 and the first doctor we saw around 8PM admitted her and said she needed an urgent operation. Three days later I was told she had been discharged and the nurse rudely told us we could bring her back whenever there was an emergency,” she said.

Ms Dube said she does not understand why her daughter was discharged in that condition which led to her death at home.

Community Working Group on Health director Mr Itai Rusike said such cases should be investigated to establish the truth.

“This is a very unfortunate incident that should never be allowed to happen in a country with a constitution that guarantees every citizen and permanent resident a right to access to basic health-care services,” he said.

President Mugabe recently criticised some doctors for valuing money more instead of serving people in urgent need of health care services.

The President reminded doctors of the Hippocratic Oath which they take before they start practising.


Pin It
  • chrogic

    Why is there no mention of police investigations to be done on these inhuman criminals masquarading as doctors in a public hospital? is the clinical director not saying anything about criminal investigations because criminal activities are the order of the day at mpilo and they are always swept under the carpet yoo cry the once beloved zimbabwe noone knows when we are going to live a normal life again…!!!

    • huwori hwatekeshera

      These days hama dzangu kuczvipatara saizvozvi vana Mpilo, Pari ne Harare kwava kwekunouraiwa wakaiswa oxygen chete mumhino. Havarapi. Vana vadiki ndivo variko saana chiremba. No feelings nothing. Vamwe vacho kana kuzvara havasati.

  • Tary Shumba

    Dr Ngwenya is equally to blame, he is trying to be smart for nothing hiding behind his fingure, this case was publicised so much, where was he. He is part of the scam. Ladies and gentlemen this will catch up with us. That is how we attract generational curses into our families.

  • Mthwakazi

    Some people are horrible human beings. Now it dawns on us that this woman wouldn’t have died had they not cheated her on the operation fees. A lawsuit should be filed and those responsible should also loose their jobs. They should never be allowed to practice medicine in Zimbabwe. Period!!!

  • libertyatliberty

    1.Njabulo :The deceased could still be alive ,”but for the negligence of the doctors “ ,she died. Any reasonable doctor would not have discharged that woman, because she was in great pain. And it was clearly foreseeable to any reasonable doctor that ,if discharged ,without the operation (mastectomy )being carried out ,the patient could die. lf not ,her state would deteriorate further. Doctors like vehicle drivers , owe a duty of care to their patients. The fact that there was proximity between the deceased and the doctors at Mpilo hospital ,means that they are responsible for her death .Any reasonable doctor who has studied medicine and are qualified ,would not have discharged the deceased from the hospital. In the eyes of law ,if a doctor fails to diagnose a patient ‘s disease correctly and /or fail to give a correct percentage of the risk ,if they are to undergo a surgical operation ,then a patient can instigate legal proceedings against them, should any mishap take place. More so, if a patient’s state deteriorates further . ln this case ,the doctors at Mpilo ,were negligent .They did not act with due diligence. They fell short of the standard expected of them. They were reckless in discharging their duties. Therefore , in my view they should pay compensation to the family of the deceased family. Mpilo hospital doctors who were responsible in dealing with the deceased patient ,cannot absolve themselves from liability ,by claiming that even if they had not released her from the hospital ,she could have died. The chronicle mentioned in their first story ,that she was in great pain .And that she had difficulties in breathing. So why discharge such a patient from the hospital. Even if she was still trying to raise the money for mastectomy, she should have been kept in the hospital for close monitoring by the doctors. So ,compensation must be paid . lf that happens, then it will obviate or deter similar incidents from recurring or taking place again, at Mpilo hospital. This is my view. May her soul rest in peace. l have been following the deceased’s story in the chronicle newspaper.

    • Gordon ndlovu

      Rip brave lady, mother sister, aunt. You brought life to earth but these ‘money mongers’ instead celebrate your death.

  • QB

    This happens in every government department.

    • Luba

      not all government departments some of them are professional . Its only that nowadays they disregard seniority

  • DeTroy

    But Baba Ngwenya what boggles the mind is that this case has been in the public domain over the past week and surely for you to profess ignorance is to try and make us appear to be fools. Don’t hide behind a finger Sitshela. For all we know you are in cahoots with these rogue doctors. Wonder where the poor are going to go to for health care when our public hospitals are now like this. Quite unfortunate we can’t afford to go to Singapore, otherwise vele izibhedlela eZimbabwe should just be closed ngoba azisizi lutho. The public hospitals are actually compounding our health problems by adding stress on top.

  • Colonel.

    What will happen to these Doctors? Editor we need a follow up story…. we are very interested parties in this issue….

  • Mlilo Chauke

    i was at Mpilo Hospital with my son for about 21 days and in the ward there was a kid who was a cancer sufferer he suffered the same extortionist treatment from the male doctor(s) i saw it first hand he did not pay by the time we got discharged i wonder about the young boy and his condition i hope he was treated.

  • byo citizen

    If this Dr Ngwenya is the same Dr ole surgery emedical centre or that galen hse building, ole martnity home yakhe e hillside? hee that man loves money ende he does not negotiate. i dont believe this story asikhulumayo, unless if it is someone engingamaziyo.. these docs when they Go to Public Hospital abalathando labantu, forgetting that the brains which they have as doctors come from God, and paying back a little bit will bring them more blessings. most doctors are stingy and abalamusa to help a little for free yes for free cz they make enough emasurgery abo..Please bo Gqiha

  • Nkunzebomvu

    This is so saddening and grieving. I know this lady as a beggar and anyone who stays in Bulawayo knows this lady. Honestly how can doctors demand such an amount from somebody who lived through begging. I wonder if these doctors have ever donated even a 10 cent bond coin to any beggar and they expected a beggar to collect $10 000 from begging. If the Institution is to go by the warning that the president gave then these doctors must be brought to book. Honestly we have seen doctors from other countries donating their knowledge and labour to treat local people of some complications but our doctors failed to donate their knowledge to help their own sister, and instead asked the family to look for donations. Kanti lingena yini linabantu ngokuthanda imali kangaka. Labonondindwa kabayithandi njengani. Wena Ngwenya vele ibizo lakho liyazikhulumela konke ngawe, you should be removed from that post. Asizinukeni amakhwapha zizalwane zeZimbabwe.

  • Doctor Do little

    I think that there are some who when things go bad look at the situation and do not go back to what has created it in the first place. Where in the world do you get a situation that if you need a blood transfusion you have to buy the blood first? Truth be told all this that is taking place is due to a Government that has absolutely no feelings for its people. People are dying because they can not afford medical care. Not so long ago a young man was involved in a serious accident. He was rushed to a government hospital. He had lost a lot of blood and had a broken leg which the hospital seemed ignorant about. The hospital advised his family that they had no pain killers so the mother was told to go to the chemist and buy paracetamol. After three days in the hospital he could take the pain of his broken leg no longer. They asked that he be transferred to Mater Die Hospital. The Hospital refused. The father drove to the Hospital, carried his son out and took him to Mater dei Hospital where he was immediately seen to and a cast put on the leg. The buck here stops by the Government. I don’t think the President has a right to talk about the Hippocratic oath because it is his administration that brought us to this place.

  • Ziyabheda

    Treatment in public hospitals for such cases should be accessed for free so that people do not postpone seeking help because they will not be having cash.The lady could not seek help in time due to this cash issue,otherwise she could have been attended to years ago from the look of things.mhsrip!

  • Question Mark?

    While this is a regretable incident involving death and alleged money extortion, it is important to understand the actual medical reasons why the patient was discharged in the first place. If patient history indicates the patient can nolonger respond positively to medicines pre-and post surgery, that surgical operation would not help. If the disease is so advanced there is no likilihood of reversing it, discharging the patient for home based care is also reasonable to cut bills. There maybe other health conditions like HIV and AIDS impeding patient’s recovery though medicines and surgical operations. Coming out in the open to a patient and his kin that the patient’s days are numbered is no simple act or is it Doctor Do Little? For many patients discharged who died days later; kith and kin blame the hospitals for loss of life; but what were the chances of survivial? Just wondering who on this earth will live forever? Not even the Doctors can escape death when it knocks on their doors. Can they? They can only delay answering that call but like it or not, they will just peg out! This Monday,a man stood at a road traffic accident funeral in Mpopoma to comfort mourners and collapsed.He died on the spot. No money was involved; no hosital and no doctor stood in between.His call came through and he took it. We all die. If there is anyone here who thinks they have a legal right to live forever and some hospital and doctor must see to it that this right is not tempered with, please kindly approach the constitutional courts when your feelings suffer injury. Why not?

    • Nkunzebomvu

      We really understand you. But was this patient told all that her condition was beyond treatment. If so then why was the patient charged $10 000. The way you put it here makes me think that you are an accomplice in this whole scam.

    • Doctor Do little

      What any normal human being wants is to live with dignity and die with dignity. This lady’s case is heartbreaking. To have to expose yourself in that manner just to try to get attention. As a Doctor what does it cost to afford someone dignity? In this time and age of suffering we need the Medical Profession to stand up and be counted. All that is need is for every Doctor to Donate a few hours a month to take care of those that need and cannot afford it it for free. This country reeling from so many obstacles and surely the well being of the less fortunate is important.

  • Mixed Race

    The situation at Mpilo Hospital is disgusting to say the least.Yesterday I visited somebody in Ward B5,I was shocked to see a patient being given a dry body bath by his brother on his floor mattress bed,whilst the silly nurses and their juvenile doctor were seated around a semi-broken table making loud and noisy jokes.That to me is very unprofessional and uncalled for.All our public facilities are dead and those who man them are there to show off not to assist the public.

    • Essexvale

      That’s really heart-breaking. This lands urgently needs spiritual salvation so that effective social, political or economic change may occur.

  • Umzila Kawulandelwa

    I know of friend whose relative had a broken leg. Doctor at Mpilo who was attending to her refered her to go somewhere else for an x-ray as the x-ray machine at Mplilo was said not to be working. The doctor didn’t know that this friend of mine is one of the technicians who fixes the x-ray machines at Mpilo. He put it to the doctor that there was no such report of a broken down x-ray machine and the doctor seeing that he has been busted disappeared and was left with the nurses to explain. X-ray was eventually done at Mpilo using the same machine that was said to be broken down…. besitsho be sinya these corrupt doctors and nurses… yaz’ bayizinja!!.. I really need to convince this friend to pursue this matter, its jus that he works for the government too

  • Aus Ncube

    This is disgusting and so un human. I feel sorry for the deceased and her family. Where is humanity? What is David Parirenyatwa saying about all this? Abantu bayafa ngenxa yokuthanda imali lenhliziyo ezimbi zabo Dokotela. I hope they suffer too even if nothing is done to them, God will deal with them one day.
    RIP old lady.

    • Smoothy1

      Humanity has gone to the dogs. To the baboons. One once said: The difference between a person and a baboon is that baboons are the ones that are still living in the bundu yet it should be vice versa. Baboons have overtaken humans brainwise.

  • Wellington

    corruption at Mpilo is too much, Mpilo means Life but its actually the opposite at that hospital, at the moment we cant help it coz the head of state gets treated in special facilities out there in the far east.

  • bhobho chari


    • Smoothy1


  • Luba

    corruption has become so bad, it is now taking lives


    I have been at Mpilo at least twice in serious situations. The second time I obtained help on the Day. Buth the first time, I experienced how being poor in Zim means

    I however choose to apportion the blame to the authorities not the doctors. The hospitals do not have enough numbers of Doctors. The few you happen to have often have surgeries and don’t value what little the government gives them. Indeed they might be able to live without that, except perhaps if they are juniour Doctors

    The hospitals either don’t have medicine, don’t have personnel; Do not provide adequate specialism needed.

    That is a white lie that you won’t be turned away. I have recently lost an aunt turned away from Pari for lack of money. Government is to blame. These doctors can do so provided
    1. They get sufficient compensation
    2. A proper oversight is done to control members running private surgeries as well as practice at gvt hospitals
    3. There is support by government to ensure health support is done to the best

    Ukhulu siyazi ulatshwa nga. Ngenxa yani???????

  • Essexvale

    This is tragedy of enormous proportion for the deceased’s family, friends and Bulawayans. How could health officials involved in the matter be so insensitive to the plight of an ailing patient who had no money for treatment? Surely her plight could have been catagorised as exceptional and normal charges waived. Besides, in my opinion, I’d say that the actions of those who demanded such an exorbitant sum to treat Ms. Phanankosi Dube are nothing less than criminal. The simple truth is that they allowed her to die because she could not meet their greedy demands. The overriding question is: just how can these people face their consciences. Such a blatant demonstration of insensitivity towards disadvantaged patients by health officials should be condemned to the fullest extend while the authorities need to institute extensive investigations concerning this matter with a view to prosecuting the offenders. As a concerned citizen I’m so very sorry about what has happened and may Almighty God have mercy on both the perpetrators and victims !

  • Gxabhashe

    This Solani ngwenya knew of this situation engafuni kukhuluma ubumbulu laaa ethi he was not aware ,he knows and most prob had a share in the $10k…..#asifuni bumbulu wobani serious ngempilo…

    • bh

      This guy is stinking rich from his own private hospital, I dont think he condones coruption at Mpilo

  • Essexvale

    In my time I’ve braved tragedies of gruesome natures and a particularly brutal war situation; yet this story has brought tears to my eyes …..

  • elam

    in some countries such behaviour can amount to medical malpractice or even manslaughter/culpable homicide..these doctors or the hospital authourities must have their day in court.the minstry of health must deal with ths decisively as this is a tip of an iceberg,a lot of people have because doctors tell them these unsane amounts