Botswana citizens Onkemetse Connie Motlhaping and Kabelo Chatanga,successfully sued the Botswana Ministry of Health and Wellness, for medical negligence that resulted in the death of their child after delivery.
Justice Michael Leburu of the Lobatse High Court presided over the matter which led the couple to be compensated with P400,000.
The couple had initially claimed P5,000,000 for the medical expenses incurred for hiring other medical personnel, payment of P1,500,000 for pain and suffering, 10% collection commission on the capital debt and costs of suit at attorney and own client scale.
The ruling noted that: “The plaintiffs have had to personally and through the hiring of other personnel take care of their incapacitated infant incurring huge costs and lost opportunities whilst taking care of the child in the process. Amongst others, they were not able to pursue further studies due to financial and time factors of taking care of the child… As a result of these facts, the plaintiffs have sought damages in the amount of P7,000,000”.
The child is said to have lived for three years only.
“Subsequent to the birth, the child was born in a vegetative state (alive, but comatose and without apparent brain activity or responsiveness) such that the child was unable to take care of its own basic needs and as such needed the constant and regular support of its parents to make it,” added the ruling.
“According to their papers, the child died from having sustained peri-natal asphyxia. According to the medical dictionary, it is said to be a medical condition resulting from deprivation of oxygen to a newborn infant that lasts long enough during birth process to cause physical harm, usually to the brain. Some of the causes of birth asphyxia include too little oxygen in the mother’s blood before or during birth amongst other reasons. It must be noted that from the papers and arguments from both sides, the ruling went on, none of them talked about or presented a post mortem report.” said the ruling.
The Assistant Registrar and Master Dumisani Basupi was appointed to assess the damages, that the couple should be compensated for.
“As for general damages of pain and suffering, the defendants proposed any amount between P1,000 and P90,000 as opposed to the P1,500,000. In short, the defendants are of the view that the amount of P2,000,000 is sufficient to be awarded as damages in total,” said Basupi
Basupi noted that the purpose of compensation for damages encountered is to redeem the couple to their previous financial status.
“Put differently, an award of damages is intended to put the claimant in a good financial position as he would have been prior to the wrongful act occasioning the damage,” noted Basupi.
Liberty Pazvakawambwa SADC News Correspondent- Botswana