The High Court in Pretoria has ordered the Mpumalanga health MEC to pay more than R440 000 to support the son of a local labourer who died after a clinic sister sent him home with dressings and a box of pain killers, despite a severe head injury.
Judge Norman Davis ruled that the negligence of staff at the HCH Klarinet Clinic in Emalahleni in March 2016 had led to the death of Senso Nkonde, a manual labourer who went to the clinic for treatment after being stabbed in the shoulder and hit on the head with a blunt object while on his way home.
He arrived as the clinic was closing and a nursing assistant hastily bandaged his shoulder, gave him a packet of pain pills and sent him home.
He returned the next day but went home after being told to join the queue because he was in too much pain. He died of multiple organ failure due to a brain injury that day.
The biological mother of Nkonde’s seven-year-old son Ntando initially sued the health MEC for loss of support, but an advocate was later appointed to proceed with the claim.
Davis ordered the health department to compensate Nkonde’s son for his loss of support. The amount will be administered by a trust until he turns 21.
Nkonde’s family blamed the clinic for his death, saying he should not have been sent home but transferred to a state hospital because of his head injury.
The heath department insisted he had only complained about being stabbed and even disputed Nkonde’s paternity of his son.
Davis accepted the evidence of Nkonde’s mother that her son had accepted responsibility and paid maintenance for his son and that the boy was his biological child.
He also accepted the evidence of Mam Zulu, the deputy chairperson of the Klarinet Clinic committee, and Nkonde’s girlfriend that they had reported his head injury to the clinic sister.
The judge found the nursing assistant who accepted Nkonde as a patient had been negligent by not assessing his head injury and not referring him to the hospital, that he was handled in a lackadaisical manner the next day and that his death could probably have been prevented.