SEVEN years after a rusty jungle gym fell on her, leaving her permanently disabled and badly scarred, an Algoa Park teen is fighting a R3.5-million legal battle for damages and justice. Lucindy Hendricks, now 19, went from being a happy, lively 12-year-old to a partially paralysed girl who now battles to get up the 50 steps to her mother’s flat.
On June 12, 2004, she was watching her friends play in the parking lot of Jasmyn Flats, Algoa Park.
Neighbourhood children had dragged a badly rusted piece of jungle gym from a nearby municipal park to the tarred parking lot and were playing on it.
Lucindy had joined a group watching the others play when the steel structure toppled over and fell on her, pinning her neck to the ground, crushing a part of her spine and leaving her shocked and severely injured.
She was taken to Livingstone Hospital. Initially, she was confined to a wheelchair, having lost the use of her legs and arms. With continuing treatment and rehabilitation she has regained some use of her legs, but her right hand remains weak and useless.
“It was a really bad time,” said her mother Jane. “I went to the hospital every day to wash her and to put lotion on her so she would not get bed sores.
“She is such a lovely child. She gave me no problems. She had epileptic fits before this happened but otherwise she was good at school, she learned well.”
Lucindy said her biggest wish would be to turn back the clock. She could not continue her education at a mainstream school and received her further education at schools for the disabled.
In Grade 8, however, she contracted tuberculosis and had to be taken out of school for six months.
“I would love nothing more than to finish my education,” Lucindy said.
“Now I just sit at home all day. I cannot go to a regular school because my hands will not write any more.”
She is claiming the municipality should take responsibility for the accident as they failed to inspect and maintain jungle gyms in the area, effectively causing the accident. According to an engineer’s report before court, the jungle gym was so badly rusted that it broke off its base.
The municipality has denied it was their jungle gym, even though it was on municipal land, and has denied any responsibility for the accident.
Lucindy’s claim includes R41600 for rehabilitation and medicine. She desperately needs orthopaedic shoes. She is also asking for R1.4-million for the appointment of a full-time carer.
Her mother is not employed full-time but has a few cleaning jobs. Lucindy, who once had dreams of becoming a lawyer, is also suing for R1.08-million for loss of income, and general damages for pain and suffering of R750000. A date is yet to be set for the case.