Sheriff ordered to seize Bhisho building if two mothers not paid R10.5m in damages owed
If the Department of Health fails to cough up R10.5-million in damages to two Nelson Mandela Bay mothers by the end of the month, its Eastern Cape head office building, along with the contents and vehicles, could be auctioned off.
The money is to compensate for two babies who sustained brain damage due to the negligence of Dora Nginza Hospital staff.
In both cases, the state attorney conceded that the state did not have a defence and settled out of court.
The sheriff of the court delivered two writs of execution, amounting to R10.5-million, to the offices of Eastern Cape Health MEC Pumza Dyantyi and superintendent-general Dr Thobile Mbengashe on February 28.
This gave authority to the sheriff to seize the Dukumbana Building in Bhisho along with the furniture, computers and vehicles.
The department has until the end of the month to pay or the assets will be sold on public auction.
The bill has already accumulated interest of almost R100 000.
It has been a five-year battle for Uitenhage mom Sandra Landman, 40, whose son, Ethan, 5, sustained severe brain damage during birth at Dora Nginza Hospital.
“They treat us like rubbish in that place,” she said.
“Before I went to that place there was nothing wrong with him. I went for all my checks and he was absolutely perfect.”
Landman was referred to the hospital for an emergency C-section.
“They made me wait for almost a day. My son was badly brain damaged in the process. He can’t speak,” she said.
“He should have gone to a special school years ago but I didn’t have the money to send him. He is very far behind.
“All this time I have had to look after him by myself.
“I really need the money to look after his medical needs.
“He is getting epileptic fits all the time. His medication has now caused infection in his mouth, so he really needs to get specialist help.”
Landman said the drawn out legal saga had taken its toll on her. “I am finished,” she said.
Althea Lewis, 51, of Gelvandale, said even 11 years after she gave birth to her youngest daughter, Gabriella, she was still furious about what happened to her at Dora Nginza Hospital.
“Gabriella can’t walk or talk. She is blind and has cerebral palsy,” she said.
“I was supposed to have an emergency C-section on April 4 2006 at 6 in the morning and they made me wait until after 8pm. That is when my girl got brain damaged. Honestly, I am so sick and tired of everything they have done to me. Now I have to wait for the money. It has been six years.”
Provincial health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said they hoped to be able to pay the money by the end of the week.
“We are seeking extra funding to meet our obligations to pay court orders,” he said.
“The state attorney has asked all attorneys to be patient for the next two months.
“There will be those who want to embarrass the government.”
According to statistics compiled by the national Department of Health, the Eastern Cape department topped the list of medico-legal claims in the country with R8-billion in claims filed against it between 2011 and 2015.
The DA has described the financial chaos in the department as a failure to plan and threatened to push for it to be placed under administration.