The Maldives! When the divine location is mentioned, all you can think of is blue seas, clear skies and an incredible destination for pure bliss. However, the Maldives became a nightmare for a man from Cape Town.
According to Eminetra, Andrew Coetzee from Mitchells Plain has allegedly been kept “hostage” for two and a half months by a hospital in an Asian country since he was infected with COVID-19.
The hospital refused to release Andrew after he was unable to settle his hefty hospital bill.
Coetzee arrived in the capital Male on July 24 where he was supposed to do a two-week stopover to quarantine, reports News Chant. His next destination would have been Saudi Arabia to start a new job as a diving technical on an offshore rig. Andrew has been doing this line of work for 15 years, and his career has taken him to many places such as Nigeria, Malaysia and Vietnam.
However, Coetzee’s trip took a turn for the worst. According to IOL, he developed COVID pneumonia while he was in the Maldives and spent a solid three weeks in a hospital bed and another two weeks in an induced coma.
While Andrew was in the coma, he had a stroke, leaving his right hand paralyzed after which he had to undergo rehab.
The Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Male refused to let Coetzee go unless he paid R200 000, but unfortunately, Andrew didn’t have any journey insurance coverage and could not pay.
The family has tried endlessly to negotiate a payment plan with the hospital. They had even approached the Department of International Relations and Co-operation to help on their behalf, but had no luck. The department’s spokesperson, Lunga Ngqengelele, said: “The law doesn’t allow us as Dirco to financially assist in situations like these.”
The Weekend Argus provided an 11-page hospital bill that details every charge from the day Coetzee was admitted on August 3. The total comes to 202 769 Maldivian Rufiyaa which is R197 000.
His nursing care account cost: R60 697 and when it came to meals, Coetzee had to pick up that tab himself. When he had no more money and became very hungry, his wife, Avril had to make a plan to transfer dollars to him. In many emails, she told the hospital staff off for letting her husband “take medication on an empty stomach.”
Avril said the hospital eventually agreed they could pay off the bill. “They wanted US$10 000 dollars. We said we can only pay US$1 000 dollars, which was R15 000. And that was done last Friday (October 1).”
It took several days for the money to reflect in the hospital’s account and only then, Coetzee was finally discharged on Friday, October 8. He took a Qatar Airways flight 24 hours later, and landed at the Cape Town International Airport on Sunday, October 9.