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state won't pay paralysed boy R5m

By unknown | Oct 03, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Sibongile Mashaba

Sibongile Mashaba

The North West department of health is making an about-turn on its agreement to pay R5,2 million in damages for a brain-damaged Rustenburg boy.

The department now says it is considering appealing the settlement, though they had made it voluntarily in an out-of-court deal with lawyers representing the boy's family.

The eight-year-old boy was diagnosed with meningitis following allegations of doctor negligence at one of their hospitals.

Oteng Machailwe's life has been a nightmare and he can neither walk nor talk. This was after doctors at Rustenburg Provincial Hospital allegedly failed to provide proper medical care timeously, which led to severe brain damage.

Oteng's mother, Myna, took him to a doctor four days after his birth because he was crying all the time, but doctors failed to admit him immediately.

Oteng started convulsing five days later and his parents were informed two weeks later that he had meningitis.

He was taken to another doctor, who said the boy had suffered severe brain damage.

He now has epilepsy, severe mental retardation, spastic quadriplegia and incontinence. He still wears a nappy.

On Wednesday, the department's spokesman, Nthabiseng Makhongoana, said the department would comply with the court order but did not say when.

Yesterday she said: "The department is studying the judgment and considering our options, which may include appealing."

It has been a long wait for the family. They thought they would use the money to enrol Oteng at a special school.

The money was expected to be paid on September 24, but it was not.

The family's lawyer, Conrad Weiss of Moloto-Weiss in Rustenburg, said: "They will never succeed. The two parties reached an agreement out of court. I want to see on what grounds they will be appealing. We know they are reluctant to pay."

Oteng's father, Charles Machailwe, said: "It hurts to know that we have been given the run-around for eight years. I spend a lot of money for medical bills. My medical aid is now exhausted and I have to pay for medication from my pocket."

He said Myna had to quit her job to take care of their son.

"Last month he went for an operation to straighten his legs and that cost R45000, and he is due for another later this month.

"I will take my child to the office of the premier so that they can see what doctors at the hospital did to him. If it were not for their negligence he would be a happy, normal child."

He said the appeal meant the state was not willing to pay.


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