With today’s medical advancements, chickenpox is a disease that most children easily shrug off but the death of five year-old Martin Emvula who succumbed to the disease last year is pulling his family apart in Oshakati.
His mother, Hilda Emvula (35), says although the toddler died from complications induced by a case of severe chickenpox, her husband and his family have linked his death to witchcraft and finger her mother.
“They accused my mother of bewitching my son, which has led to serious problems between both families. I lost my son and now I’m about to lose my husband, simply because of our child’s natural death,” reveals an emotional Hilda.
The professional nurse narrates: “He started complaining of an itchy rash that I shrugged off, thinking it was just a passing ailment he would sleep off overnight but I was wrong.”
The next morning, their late boy had revealing symptoms of chickenpox on his face and neck.
“I was getting him ready for church when I realised his face and neck had a lot of spots. I decided not to go to church and monitor his progress. At that point, I figured it had to be a good idea for him to suffer from chickenpox at a young age, as it is safer. I took him to the hospital the next day where he got medication”.
A week after the first spots had appeared, Emvula started worrying, because Martin’s face appeared to worsen.
“As a nurse, I knew at that stage he should have been getting better with the spots drying up but his was a different story. As he scratched the blisters away, they turned sores and released discharges”.
When his condition worsened in the days that followed, Martin was rushed back to hospital where doctors feared it was too little, too late.
“My nurse friend explained how critical the situation was and I could sense the fear in her voice. The writing was on the wall when my son began to lose consciousness. He died the next day. By then, my husband and his mother were present,” she recounts.
Her husband, Ephraim Emvula, has since denied accusing her of witchcraft, although is of the opinion his wife could have prevented their son’s death.
“Had she sought proper medical attention on time, this could have been avoided. Instead, she waited and hoped he gets better until the condition got worse. That’s when she informed me about it. By the time I got home, it was already too late,” Ephraim says, adding, the doctor informed him that other serious complications had developed, because his wife had delayed to take him for proper medical attention. He, in fact, confirms his family suspects his son was bewitched by his mother-in-law.
“I cannot get deeper into family issues but my mother believes there is witchcraft involved. I have moved out of the house and I’m back at work in Oshikango. As for my marriage, I’m not sure if I’m still in it; both mentally and emotionally,” submits Ephraim.