Pay up for brain injury to my baby
THE mother of a 12-year-old boy who was left brain damaged after birth at a public hospital has described the decision by the Gauteng provincial government to appeal against her lawsuit as inhuman.
Last year the Johannesburg High Court ordered Premier Nomvula Mokonyane to pay Martha Khanyi and her son Prince Sibusiso, who was left disabled due to negligence by nursing staff at Pholosong Hospital in Tsakane on the East Rand.
"I'm disappointed and sad. This is bad and has brought us so much pain. I cannot cope. The appeal is making things more difficult for us.
"They (government) should have paid the money a long time ago and now they say they are appealing," Khanyi said.
Young Sibusiso was brain damaged at birth on December 2 1999.
Khanyi said looking at her son brought her so much pain.
"Children his age will start high school soon. He crawls, he cannot do anything. He cannot eat or speak. He has to go to a special school in Brakpan. I pay R340 for transport and R240 for fees.
"I am a domestic worker and earn R800 a month. I am not coping. When he is sick I cannot go to work, I have to look after him. This is affecting me and my other (three) children."
In his judgment Judge Nigel Willis said: "Prince became asphyxiated due to a prolonged birth process, and as a result has suffered extensive and serious brain injury.
"He certainly is permanently impaired and disabled. For example, he will need full-time care-giving throughout his life, which will relate, in addition to his being fed, to his use of the toilet. He will have to be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He is unable to speak or communicate."
Judge Willis found that the nurses failed to diagnose the fact that the unborn child was "in breech" (that he would come out feet first instead of the normal head down).
Mokonyane said the "lawsuit was a true reflection of the department's weaknesses".
"The matter is in the hands of the legal representatives of the provincial government and the state."
DA caucus leader Jack Bloom's assessment is that "they are unlikely to win this appeal as no new facts can be introduced, and the Supreme Court of Appeal merely looks over the court transcript".
"Meanwhile, 15.5% interest a month is charged on the R8.25-million still owing, which amounts to about R120,000 a month. The appeal case will probably only be decided in about 18 months' time, which means more than R2-million more public money would be wasted if the appeal is lost," Bloom said.
Khanyi's lawyer Gary Austin said the appeal period lapsed on July 22 last year.