Baby Shiloh family yet to receive answers from Health Ministry

Andrew Kathindi

Over three months after the death of Shiloh-Dean Ponhele, the Ministry of Health and Social Services is yet to confirm to the parents, Lavinia Kanyumbo and Damson Kosmas what transpired. A legal case will be pending.

This comes as the Kanyumbo and Kosmas still maintain that their son did not die from COVID-19 but rather negligence. Health Minister Kalumbi Shangula stated in August that an investigation had been launched to explain what happened.

The Health Ministry recorded Shiloh’s death as a COVID-19-related death in August, the youngest in the country, however, the mother of the baby, Kanyumbo insisted that the baby became ill and died after an injection was administered by a student nurse on 17 August.

Kanyumbo and Kosmas have since threatened to sue the Ministry of Health and Social Services after saying the Ministry has gone silent on them.

“I haven’t heard anything from the Ministry. I only got a call from a social worker from the ministry a month later in the middle of the night saying they wanted to counsel me. What kind of person wants to counsel someone in the middle of the night? I am in connection with my lawyer regarding suing the ministry; it’s just that there are processes to follow. We spoke in the early morning and I am waiting for him,” he told Windhoek Observer.

He added, “There is nothing that has happened. Our child never died of COVID-19. We expected the body to be autopsied but they were so quick with the burial.”

Kanyumba was further critical of the lack of communication from the Ministry, stating, “The last thing I saw was the Minister answering how far he is with the family and then he answered that the family is still in shock and we’re giving them time. Which time? Is it really COVID-19?”

“What are they investigating? Are they going to take the child out of the ground? They did nothing. We never went into isolation after they said Shiloh has COVID-19. At the funeral, my aunt touched the body, they never stopped us. After a month, we went to decorate the tombstone, they allowed it, but apparently, it’s supposed to be after six months.”

She further accused the Ministry of never keeping its promise to her to swab the body (for a posthumous test) and to also operate on the body for further tests, which was never done.

“Imagine, the child died on 21 August, which was on a Friday and on Saturday the minister announced that a three-month baby boy died of COVID-19. There is no proof. I haven’t received any paper saying my child died of COVID-19 or anything, till today. No one in the house has had symptoms of COVID-19 and if anyone should have had it, it should have been me since I used to breastfeed my child.”

This comes as a new twist has developed in the case of baby Shiloh, with the mother, Kanyumbo claiming that a month after her baby’s death, their house nanny, Laina Ndapandula Silas, sent her a disturbing SMS, confessing that she gave something to the baby which led Shiloh’s death.

“She was living with us but she returned to the north after we got a family member to look after the child. We all left for the north together but told her we’ll call her when we need her and she went to Oshikuku. And then on the morning of 4 of October, she sent that SMS in Oshiwambo; she said she gave something to the child and then the child died and that she gave something to my firstborn and she too will die, she said because I don’t like her,” Kanyumbo told Windhoek Observer.

The SMS, which has further complicated the matter of Shiloah’s death has completely left the family stunned.

“If it wasn’t for my family, I don’t know if I could be alive today. I’m trying to be strong for my daughter who is alive. I took a screenshot of the SMS and took it to the station.”

Kayumbo opened a case in October against Silas, which was confirmed by the charge officer, who also confirmed that the suspect has since been released for lack of evidence. He could not provide further details of the case.

She still maintains that the injection which was administered to her son in August did something but now believes her family babysitter also did something to her son.

Health Ministry Executive Director, Ben Nangombe said that the investigations have not been abandoned and they are yet to conclude them.

He however, confirmed that any additional probing into the matter will only use available records.

Nangombe claims that, “If the person is buried, we can’t do any additional tests, we have to use the available records.”

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