Gauteng Health settles for R19,2m in cerebral palsy action

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A R34m negligence damages claim by Lindiwe Ngwenya over the cerebral palsy of her daughter, following her birth five years ago at the Brakpan Pholosong Hospital, has been settled for R19.2m by Gauteng Health

Omphile Ngwenya’s mother Lindiwe instituted a R34m damages claim against the MEC who agreed to settle the matter and pay an amount of nearly R19.2m to the child’s mother, according to a Pretoria News report. The money will, however, be kept in a trust account and be used solely to make the little girl’s life easier. Her mother will receive a tiny portion – R135,907 – as compensation for her care-giving to date of the child.

The report says Lindiwe Ngwenya endured severe hardships in taking care of her daughter up to now, without any compensation. Her only income was a child support grant of R380 per month, which she received for each of her four children. The former domestic worker and cleaner had to give up her job to take care of the helpless child. It was said a doctor at Pholosong Hospital told the authorities she did not qualify for a care dependency grant. She and Omphile also had to share a two-roomed RDP house in KwaThema near Brakpan with several other family members.

The court was told Ngwenya had a normal pregnancy, until she went to the clinic on March 23, 2012, with contractions. It was established that the foetus was in distress and she was transferred to the Pholosong Hospital. But by the time the caesarean section was performed it was too late and child had already suffered brain damage due to a lack of oxygen. She was also born with a dislocated knee.

The report said it was found that the staff at both the clinic and hospital were negligent. The clinic did not inform the hospital staff about the foetal distress and the latter did not monitor the mother sufficiently to realise that an emergency caesarean section had to be performed.

Apart from not being able to ever care for herself, Omphile also suffers from epilepsy.

Ngwenya and her four children share one bedroom in her RDP house. Ngwenya has to feed Omphile puréed food using a syringe, as she cannot swallow properly. She also has to turn the child every two to three hours a night. Omphile will moan so that her mother knows she is uncomfortable. The family was up to now too poor to afford a wheelchair for the child and she was wheeled around the community in a small pram.

According to the report it was stated in expert reports before court that, notwithstanding her condition, Omphile loves being around people. She cries to communicate her needs but is “otherwise a happy baby”.

Her lawyer Monica Janse van Rensburg of Gert Nel Inc Attorneys said they were happy with the settlement. “Little Omphile will now be able to receive the assistance she deserves.”

Pretoria News report

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