Death at the doorway…

Wehr warns against the ever present danger of a second COVID 19-wave returning to the Cape

Words: Fanie Heyns


CAPE TOWN. –  Leoni Wehr, porter at the Khayelitsha District Hospital, has seen and experienced it all. She suffered from domestic abuse during her marriage, tested positive for COVID-19 and then went through isolation and hell for two months before she returned to work.

She also saw at least 157 people die in one week in June due to COVID-19 at the Khayelitsha District Hospital.

She and at least eight of her fellow frontline-workers contracted the virus because there was no special protection equipment available to them and they were unprotected, which caused her to cry out for help. As a result of her whistle blowing to SABC TV 3 and to a German journalist, things started changing at the hospital subsequently and there were more appreciation and empathy for the work of the frontline-workers.

Wehr did the trauma training, life coach training and basic legal training at 1000 Women Trust.

“The time during lockdown was the worst ever because we did not know what we were dealing with. I also contracted the virus and found myself all alone. It was so traumatic that I sought counselling. Of the 12 front-line workers in my department at hospital, nine people tested positive for COVID 19,” she said.

“Many of the people who passed away at the hospital, died because they only responded too late when they had flu-like symptoms

“My counselling after I was healed from the virus, lasted for two months. What I learned from those counselling sessions was acceptance, to have no regrets, empathy for myself and co-workers, and the desire to live life to the fullest,” Wehr said.

“At the 1000 Women Trust trauma training we went deeper into where trauma started and I learned not only to help others, but to appreciate and love myself first.”

Asked about the seriousness of COVID-19, Wehr had a prompt message for people in the Western Cape: “A second wave is definitely coming. Stop being ignorant. The virus is here. People are going about their business as if there is no tomorrow. We need to be careful. If a second wave is coming, I will be scared because I survived the first time. Who says I will survive a second time,” she asked.

The 1000 Women Trust offers training on a number of topics. Read our Stories for more.