Tebogo Monama andSibongile Mashaba

Tebogo Monama andSibongile Mashaba

While other children his age are running around, eight-year-old Oteng Machailwe can neither walk nor talk because of what his parents claim was negligence by a North West hospital.

And despite an out of court settlement for R5,2 million his family has still not seen a cent!

Oteng's mother, Myna, took him to the doctor four days after his birth because he was crying all the time.

"The paediatrician told us that he cried too much and we had to take him to hospital for a drip. The doctor even gave us a letter to show that it was an emergency.

"But when we got to the Rustenburg Provincial Hospital we were told that we should wait in the queue like everyone else.

"We left the hospital at eleven at night and returned the next morning. They still told us that we had to wait in line.

"I went back to the doctor who intervened and Oteng was finally admitted."

Unfortunately, Oteng started getting convulsions five days later and his parents were informed two weeks later that he had meningitis.

He was taken to another doctor who told them Oteng had suffered severe brain damage because of the late treatment.

He now has epilepsy, severe mental retardation, spastic quadriplegia - a form of cerebral palsy where the leg and arm muscles are stiffly and permanently contracted, making movement difficult and awkward to varying degrees of severity - and incontinence. He also cannot talk and still wears a nappy.

The family took up the battle with the North West provincial government and health department to demand that they pay Oteng's medical bills.

The family's lawyer, Conrad Weiss of Moloto-Weiss in Rustenburg, confirmed that they sued for R10 million but reached an out-of-court settlement of R5,2 million.

The money was expected to be paid within 14 days and was due on September 24 but this had not happened.

After eight years of struggle the family and provincial department agreed on a R5,2 million settlement on September 10.

The government was supposed to have paid within 14 days but the family is still waiting.

"We told them in April that Oteng has to go for an operation to straighten his legs on September 22 but they did not give us any money.

"The doctors said they could not postpone the operation any longer because he was getting old and his hip was dislocated," his mother says.

Oteng is due for another operation on October 27.

"What hurts me most is that we settled out of court because we were tired. We originally wanted R10 million.

"Now that he has had an operation he has to go to a rehabilitation programme at a hospital in Pretoria. He also has to go for speech therapy.

"There is also a school for children like him in Pretoria but it costs R200000 a year."

The family's medical aid has been exhausted and they can no longer pay for his medicine.

He requires a special chair that costs R25000 and has to be changed at least every two years and a special bed that costs R3000.

North West health department spokesman Nthabiseng Makhongoana said the department would comply with the court order but did not say "when" they would pay up.