Domestic worker sues Pitso and wife for R5.7m over injuries at work

Africa’s best football coach Pitso Mosimane and his wife Moira Tlhagale are being sued for R5,7-million by their domestic worker after she fell while removing debris from their house, became borderline disabled and lost her ability to fall pregnant and have her biological children.

Dorothy Sikirivao has filed a lawsuit in the Johannesburg High Court in which she is seeking recourse after the couple initially paid her medical bills but stopped without furnishing any reason.

In the court papers which Sunday World has seen, Sikirivao’s lawyers, Okumbor Attorneys, stated that a freak accident occurred on or about April 26 2021, while she was at the couple’s home.

At the time of the accident, Sikirivao was carrying out an instruction of Mosimane and his wife to remove the debris from the renovations going on at the residence then.

While removing the debris, Sikirivao fell on her back and sustained spine-related injuries. In the aftermath of the accident, stated the lawyers, Sikirivao was taken to a hospital at the behest of the couple for her initial treatment and subsequently to consult with other specialists in orthopaedic and spine treatment.

These specialists, said the lawyers, diagnosed Sikirivao with several injuries resulting from the accident. Among those injuries, according to the lawyers, were a crack in the skull, blood clots in the brain, dislocation of the shoulder, fracture in the upper backbone, fracture in the mid-backbone, fracture in the lower backbone, pressure on the spinal cord, dislocation of the hip, dislocation of the right leg and other injuries.

As a result of the injuries, Sikirivao was placed on sick leave by the couple from on or about April 26, 2021, to on or about May 22 2021. When Sikirivao returned to work from sick leave on or about May 25 2021, she could not continue to work effectively to the full
extent of her job.

“This was because of the tedious nature of the work she did and the potential of aggravating the injuries. The injuries she sustained from the said accident were of such a nature that exacting physical labour will aggravate them,” read the papers.

Sikirivao underwent physiotherapy, with the physiotherapist attending to her at the couple’s residence.

Notwithstanding the recommendations of specialist medical practitioners and Sikirivao’s expressed knowledge of her body condition, the couple, in flagrant defiance to the said recommendations, the lawyers charge, coerced her into continuing to work in very physically exacting work, including endless driving.

“The defendants refused and or ignored all entreaties to grant the plaintiff reprieve by extending her sick leave. In the circumstance, thereof, the injuries sustained by the plaintiff from the said accident were eventually aggravated to the extent that the plaintiff was borderline disabled,” read the papers.

The lawyers stated that when the accident occurred, the domestic worker was under the direct control of the couple who were her employers.

“It was the defendants who ordered the plaintiff to remove the debris from the construction work at their residence. Barring the defendants commissioning the construction work and ordering the plaintiff to remove the debris from the construction work, the accident of the 26th of April 2021 would not have occurred. The defendants are jointly and severally liable for the compensation of the plaintiff to restore her to the state of health she was prior to the said accident.

“The defendants did accept this liability by footing the initial bills for the treatment of the plaintiff before becoming recalcitrant and belligerent about it for reasons unknown to the plaintiff,” read the papers.

Sikirivao has undergone several specialist consultations after the said accident and the prognosis recommended more specialists high care and high risk surgery, they said. These operations, they further said, have to be performed on Sikirivao in order to restore her to her previous health status.

“The plaintiff, post the said accident, was also prognosed to be in a situation where the plaintiff may never be able to carry a pregnancy and fulfil her desire to have her biological children except through an expensive and legally cumbersome process of surrogacy.

“The plaintiff was also prognosed to have future prospects of health complications which may arise from the injuries sustained from the said accident,” the papers say.

The lawyers said they wrote to Mosimane and his wife and asked them to offer a settlement proposal for Sikirivao’s consideration, but they ignored it.

“In the circumstances thereof, the plaintiff requests the above honourable court to grant an order for payment of compensation to her in the amount of R5 700 000.00 (five million seven hundred thousand rands,” read the papers.

The amount, according to them, includes R1.7-million for the loss of income, R2-million for past and future medical expenses, R1-million for the loss of amenities of life and another R1-million for her pain and suffering. Tlhagale did not respond to written questions.

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