Jack Bloom MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health
I welcome the ruling by the High Court in Johannesburg last week that ordered three Gauteng Health officials to pay punitive costs of litigation out of their own pockets.
Acting-Justice Ronée Robinson found that the MEC and the Gauteng Health Department of Health contested a case of gross negligence without justification. They also did not comply with court timetables and procedures, which severely inflated the legal costs of the case
The case concerned negligence by the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital in delaying treatment for nearly two hours to Vuyusile Eunice Lushaba in June 2000 when she gave birth to her son, Menzi.
He was born with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy as a result of the delay and can neither sit nor walk.
Lushaba sued the MEC for Health in 2012, claiming R17 million in damages.
Judge Robinson initially requested Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu to show cause why she should not pay the costs personally.
In her judgment after considering submissions she let the MEC off the hook in her personal capacity, but ordered the officials to pay 50% of Lushaba’s litigation costs on a punitive scale.
These officials are Ezeziel Matlou, an attorney in the employ of the State Attorney, Jabulani Macheke, a senior legal administrative officer employed in the legal services section of the Gauteng Department of Health, and Dr Kgoposo Cele, a medical practitioner employed as a medico-legal advisor by the Gauteng Department of Health.
Judge Robinson ordered that once the MEC for Health had paid all of Lushaba’s costs (in her professional capacity) that she, “is ordered to recover 50% of the costs paid by her to the plaintiff from Messrs Matlou, Macheke and Cele jointly and severally.”
I applaud Judge Robinson’s “get tough” approach to officials who have cost taxpayers unnecessary expense and delayed payment to a mother who desperately needs assistance with her child who was brain-damaged at a Gauteng hospital.
MEC Mahlangu should also institute disciplinary actions against these officials who deserve to be fired.
I hope that the Judge’s ruling is followed in other medical negligence cases so that there is real accountability in this matter.