Dead nurse's family makes tearful appearance

2012-12-11 08:50
London - The "devastated" family of a nurse who apparently committed suicide after she was duped by a hoax call about Prince William's wife Catherine made an emotional public appearance on Monday, following a global outcry over the death.

Indian-born nurse Jacintha Saldanha, 46, was found dead on Friday, days after falling victim to a prank call by Australian radio presenters to the London hospital treating pregnant Kate.

Her tearful husband Benedict Barboza and two teenage children appeared before the media outside Britain's Houses of Parliament and spoke through lawmaker Keith Vaz, whose family is also from India.

"They just want me to say that they are extremely grateful to the public here in the United Kingdom and throughout the world who have sent them messages of condolences and support following the death of Jacintha, a loving mother and a loving wife," Vaz said.

"This is a close family. They are devastated by what has happened. They miss her every moment of every day," said Vaz, standing alongside Barboza and the couple's 14-year-old daughter Lisha.

"They will be making their own statements later on today or tomorrow to keep people informed of developments."

Memorial fund

The family later visited the King Edward VII Hospital in central London, where Saldanha had worked for four years.

"A senior member of staff is comforting the family and offering assistance and will continue to do so for as long as needed," John Lofthouse, the hospital's chief executive, said.

"We understand that the family are distraught and need time to reflect on the assistance they require," he added. "King Edward VII's Hospital will remain here for them whenever, wherever and however they need us."

The hospital said it was launching a memorial fund to support the family and would be holding a memorial service later this week.

Vaz added that the family had met with police on Monday. Saldanha's post-mortem is due to take place on Tuesday at Westminster Mortuary in central London.

'An absolute tragedy'

Presenters from Sydney's 2Day FM station had called the hospital at 05:30 on 4 December, impersonating Queen Elizabeth II and William's father Prince Charles in a bid to glean information on Kate's pregnancy.

There was no receptionist on duty and Saldanha answered the phone, passing it to a colleague who divulged details of Kate's severe morning sickness to the presenters.

The radio station said it tried to contact the hospital five times to discuss the prank before it aired, but the hospital denied this on Monday.

"Following the hoax call, the station did not talk to anyone in hospital senior management or anyone at the company that handles our media enquiries," a hospital spokesperson said.

The 2Day FM hosts who made the call spoke on Monday of their shock at Saldanha's death.

Mel Greig and Michael Christian, who have been in hiding and undergoing counselling since Saldanha's death, said they were devastated.

British Prime Minister David Cameron described her death as "an absolute tragedy".

"I thought it was completely shocking, the news when I heard that about the suicide of this nurse, who worked incredibly hard and obviously was incredibly dedicated," he told reporters.

"I feel incredibly sorry for her and her family. It is an absolute tragedy that this has happened and I am sure everyone will want to reflect on how it was allowed to happen."


  • marco.engelbrecht - 2012-12-11 09:11

    Haha... son looks like the dude from Slumdog Millionaire.

      atholl.hay - 2012-12-11 09:34

      Marco Engelbrecht you are a sorry excuse for a human being.

      caine.abel.75 - 2012-12-11 16:15

      quarter brain

      Sam - 2012-12-11 18:13

      @curriemafia: your comments are always good and funny! Thanks for that - I needed it today. Anyway, I still think that the RF orchestrated this in order to indirectly send a message to the media. And the autopsy results will be a cover up. RF footprints are always all over the messes that William and Kate leave behind. Or Harry - look at the girl who had to take the fall for the Las Vegas debacle? She ended up in jail!

  • Seducect - 2012-12-11 09:48

    I struggle to understand why the nurse commited suicide. It cannot only be the result of a prank call. From personal experience it was possible the tipping point for her deed and not the main motivation.

      antionette.leroux - 2012-12-11 10:04

      My thoughts exactly! She probably did have an underlying problem and this tipped het over the edge - very sad ..

      linda.duits - 2012-12-11 10:17

      Agree, something else was underlying here.

      johan.mostert.967 - 2012-12-11 10:21

      No one knows how the Royal family and the hospital management reacted behind the scene.

      rina.breed - 2012-12-11 11:04

      I agree. Her death had nothing to do with the prank unless she was a ... cannot get myself to use the term. The Royal family is no different than any other common family in the world. We are ALL ROYALS. British police should investigate other possibilities but according to my personal experience with them they are pretty useless .

      nicholas.graan - 2012-12-11 11:17

      Agreed. Everyone is attacking the two Aussies as a scapegoat. If it were human nature to take your own life after something like that, Leon Schuster would have been "responsible" for thousands of deaths! Unfortunately this is going set silly new trends when it comes to prank calls when in fact what happened here is highly unusual and exceptional and probably had very little to do with the prank call.

      Sam - 2012-12-11 18:15

      @johan.mostert.967: EXACTLY! Then they backed off and claimed innocence, with William even joking about the illness a day later and Charles joking about the prank! Heartless fraudsters!

      Shirley - 2012-12-11 20:24

      The press was so quick to oblige and label the death an "apparent" suicide. Then they back-peddled and attributed the death to "stress" and "humiliation". The police as usual, are tight lipped and ultra secretive because of the connection of this case to the royal family. They(police) say the death is not "suspicious". The results of the autopsy might never be revealed. I would be willing to bet that there will be no findings of pathological disease, or any direct and precise abnormalities. Cyanide is a natural occurring metabolite after death, so it will be impossible for an autopsy performed at least four days after the time of death to determine the level of CN(cyanide) in her system at the time of death. Case closed, at least "officially".

  • Diggybongz - 2012-12-11 09:55

    someone needs to look at how the hospital handled the situation because we can not just blame the radio jocks for this.Nobody is talking about how she was reprimanded by her employer, for her to kill herself could not just have been a result of embarassment from being a victim of a prank call.

      maureen.churchill.9 - 2012-12-11 10:33

      diggybongz you are so right, the hospital probably over reacted

  • frederik.joosten.5 - 2012-12-11 11:05

    I feel very sorry for the family but do not understand why the nurse decided that being made look foolish was enough to commit suicide.

      Sam - 2012-12-11 18:17

      Bcause she didn't - the RF used this to get at the media

  • Judy - 2012-12-11 12:27

    How sad that you take your life over something so "trifle". They are just people - unfortunately the British make such a fuss over their antiquated Monarchy system. Costs them Millions. The Australians are not to blame. They did their job and it was really good. They never expected to actually get through when they dialled that number and the information that they recieved was no big deal!. Leave the presenters out of it..... theyve been through enough with this womans suicide now on their conscience. The whole thing is so patheticically tragic.

  • leslie.rabie - 2012-12-11 13:32

    It was a prank call.. thats not enough for any mother to end her life HOWEVER - It could have been the cherry on top that pushed her over board.

  • zelda.boshoff.7 - 2012-12-11 15:46

    This nurse had deeper problems and suicide is not an instinct thing, she must have either try it before or think about it. There was other issues and a prank was definitely not what trigger it, someone is using the situation to make the Royals cough up and also the radio station. Such a shameless lot of people to allow it. they must rather investigate before paying a cent!

  • maylani.bezuidenhout - 2012-12-11 18:34

    Autopsy not even done yet and they are already talking to the media? Mmmm...

  • davykj - 2012-12-12 09:38

    What mess up are you referring to in this case Sam? Kate falling pregnant by her lawful husband and having the normal `morning sickness? I fail to see what the mess up is there. I think you're gripped by too much conspiracy theory. Kay Dee

  • annette.duvenhage.1 - 2012-12-12 09:42

    Only selfish, selfcentered or disturbed people take heir own lives...and over a stupid thing like a prank phonecall! I can hardly believe it. There are more to this story than just the call.

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