QUICK-THINKING bystanders helped a woman give birth in a dusty parking area early on Monday morning when she arrived at a clinic in Sandton, before it opened.
“They told her to push. Everyone kept telling her to push, even the nurses said it. By then a man had taken her out of the vehicle and blankets were placed on the floor so that she could lie down to push,” said Naieson Dube, a patient who had come to the clinic. Dube, a 47-year-old from Zimbabwe, was queuing outside the Witkoppen Health and Welfare Centre – a private non-profit company (NPC) and comprehensive primary healthcare centre in Fourways, waiting for it to open. A speeding van pulled into the parking lot at around 06:00 and a woman, clearly in labour, got out, screaming for help. 
But the other patients told her the health and wellness centre was not open yet and suggested she go to a hospital. She begged security guards and other patients to help her.
“I saw a wonder! Really it was something else. A woman gave birth outside the gates by the parking lot in full view of motorists, patients and the public. We asked the guys at the clinic to help her and take her inside so she could be concealed, but I think it was too late by then. The baby was coming,” said Dube.
People too scared to help
Noticing that it was perhaps a bit too late for the hospital, Dube, along with other concerned bystanders, said he rushed back to the queue and motioned for women with babies to help deliver the child as the nurses or doctors could not be initially found.
“Most of the women and staff who came to see the drama said they were too scared to assist because they did not want to be blamed if something went wrong. They just kept saying it was too late to move her because they could already see the head."
Another onlooker, Jabari Makhooane, said she didn’t want to get tooclose out of respect for the woman.
“I saw the commotion and a woman lying between two vehicles, but did not go too close in a bid to try and give her some privacy. We asked for a wheelchair or some sort of covering for her as she was clearly in great distress.
“Everyone was shocked. In the end, I saw them going into the premises with what seemed to be a baby wrapped in a blanket. I later found out from the nurses that they are both doing well,” said Makhooane.
“It was like a public open-air delivery room. She was screaming and shouting and pushing. Everyone kept telling her to push!
“I don’t think it is so much that the staff was not helpful, but rather that she was already in labour. Maybe they could have done more to hide her or take her somewhere discreet, but it all happened so fast,” said another patient who did not want to be named.
No 24-hour service at clinicDr Nandi Qangule, Medical Director, Witkoppen Health and Welfare Centre, confirmed that management was aware of the incident that took place on Monday morning, adding that the centre did not have a 24-hour service.
Qangule said the mother was assisted during her delivery by a security guard and a primary healthcare nurse and an auxiliary nurse.
She said the woman was taken to their emergency room, and later transferred to Hillbrow Community Health Centre.