A group of motorbike taxi drivers have stormed an Indonesian hospital and grabbed the body of a colleague’s six-month-old baby, which was reportedly being held as leverage to secure payment of outstanding medical bills.
In a dramatic scene that went viral on social media, dozens of men wearing green jackets entered Muhammad Djamil Hospital in Padang, on the island of Sumatra, earlier this week.
The infant, identified by local media as Alif Putr, had been undergoing treatment for infected lymph nodes before his death.
A bill of 25 million rupiahs ($2,500) was amassed, and the hospital had been keeping his body until the family paid the bill.
This sparked widespread outrage among the drivers as in Islamic traditions burials should normally take place within a day of death.
“This is the child of one of our colleagues,” a driver named Nanda told local media outlet Kompas.
“We decided to do something gutsy and take the child to bring him to the morgue ourselves.”
Phone footage of the incident showed a group of men leaving the hospital with the boy’s body cradled in one of their arms.
The drivers had reportedly been raising funds for Alif’s treatment.
Motorcycle taxi drivers in Indonesia typically earn between three and four million rupiahs ($300-$400) per month.
“We are sorry if something bad happened because actually, we didn’t know [the drivers were going to enter the hospital],” Alif’s mother Dewi Suryani later said, as quoted by Indonesian news site Detik.
While the hospital initially reported the drivers to the police, it later apologised to the family and said that the bill would be waived.
The incident is the latest in a string of hospital-related controversies in Indonesia, where more than half of the hospital system is run by private organisations.
Indonesia has been rolling out an ambitious universal healthcare scheme since 2014, one of the largest in the world.