Kimberley court grants appeal to man blinded in ‘botched’ surgery

The Kimberley High Court in the Northern Cape has granted a permanently blind man leave to appeal a previous high court ruling which disallowed him to make amendments to his civil lawsuit claim against the Northern Cape health department.

In a judgement handed down on Friday, the court said George Rakhojane’s application for condonation and reinstatement of the appeal is granted.

Civil lawsuit

In 2016, Rakhojane filed a civil lawsuit in the Kimberley High Court against the health department. This after he lost his eyesight due to an alleged medical negligence. The incident happened at Kimberley Complex Hospital.

His lawsuit was to claim damages for the alleged medical negligence he suffered in 2015. He claims that the head operation at the hospital affected his optic nerve and cerebral cortex, resulting in his permanent blindness.

However, he also cites a series of incidents that he refers to as negligence. This on the part of the hospital and the clinic where he first received medical attention for a severe headache.

In 2018 Rakhojane submitted a notice in the high court that he wants to amend his civil lawsuit claim. He did so months after the required period to make the amendments had expired. 

This move was opposed by the department.

Prevented from making amendments to his damages claim 

In 2020 the high court ruled in favour of the department. This prevented Rakhojane from making amendments to his damages claim. 

Rakhojane brought an application for leave to appeal last year and the matter was heard in November. 

On Friday, the high court ruled that Rakhojane’s application for condonation and reinstatement of the appeal is granted.

“The defendant’s (MEC for Health, Northern Cape) application in terms of rule 30(1) is dismissed with costs. The plaintiff’s (Rakhojane) application for condonation of the late filing of his amended particulars of claim is granted. The plaintiff is to pay costs of the application…[Rakhojane] is granted leave to file its amended particulars of claim dated 14 November 2019,” said the high court. 

Alleged medical negligence

In October 2016, Rakhojane instituted a civil lawsuit against the health department. This was for injuries he sustained as a result of alleged medical negligence. The alleged negligence caused him to lose his eyesight, he said.

In his civil lawsuit court papers, Rakhojane said in November 2015 he went to Galeshewe Day Clinic Hospital in Kimberley. He went for treatment of a severe and persistent headache. It was the first time that he had experienced such a grave headache, he said.

“Upon arrival at Galeshewe Day Clinic Hospital the plaintiff (Rakhojane) was attended to by a nurse. [He was] then referred to the medical doctor who was on duty on the aforementioned date.

“Whilst the medical doctor was examining the plaintiff at Galeshewe, he had a seizure. He fell down from the hospital bed. The medical doctor then gave the plaintiff an injection on the back. Following this, the doctor commanded him to sit on a wheelchair while he called an ambulance.

“At all material times, there was no further medical examination or check-ups done by the doctor on him…for many hours. Until he was transferred to Kimberley Complex Hospital by ambulance.

“Despite the plaintiff being referred to the hospital with a referral letter instructing  staff to treat him on an emergency basis, the plaintiff was put in the waiting room at the casualty department for long hours. This was from 2pm until late hours of the night,” read Rakhojane’s civil lawsuit claim court papers. 

“On the evening of the 25th of November 2015, the plaintiff was taken for a CT Scan by a medical doctor. It was only after midnight that the plaintiff was taken to Intensive Care Unit (ICU). By the time the plaintiff was taken to ICU, his condition had deteriorated.

Worsening condition allegedly ignored

“This as the medical staff had neglected to treat him on an emergency basis, albeit being aware that he was an emergency case. The staff was also informed by the plaintiff’s wife that his condition was worsening. All this happened while he was kept waiting at the Casual Department.

“On the early hours of the 26th of November 2015, the plaintiff was taken for a surgical head operation. This was  for the bleeding which had developed inside his brain. As a result of the said surgical operation, the plaintiff lost his vision. He became permanently blind until to date.

“The following week after the 26th of November 2016, the plaintiff was referred to an ophthalmologists at Kimberley Complex Hospital. The test there found that the plaintiff’s head operation affected his optic nerve and cerebral cortex.”

Visit SW YouTube Channel for our video content

Latest News