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City sued for loss of child’s toe

Cape Town - He can no longer skateboard, ride a bicycle or play soccer with ease, after an evening with friends at a park turned into a nightmare when his toe had to be amputated after a merry-go-round fell on his foot.

The 12-year-old boy’s mother is now suing the City of Cape Town for R1.2 million, saying the equipment was not properly maintained, and that the screws of the merry-go-round were loose.

The park in Conway Street, Wesbank, where a child lost his toe after playing there. Picture Leon Lestrade. Credit: WEEKEND ARGUS

She charges that her son, who cannot be identified because he is a minor, has to endure being ridiculed by his peers after his toe was amputated. However, the city has countered that the boy and his friends lifted the merry-go-round and carried it before it fell on his foot.

According to papers lodged at the Western Cape High Court, the incident took place at 6.30pm at the Kuils River City Park in Wesbank on June 19, 2011.

The mother alleged that the city did not attend to the playground in terms of its maintenance schedule.

The child was treated at a local day hospital and sent home.

However, days later, he was admitted to Tygerberg Hospital where it emerged that amputation was necessary.

Expert reports attached to the summons indicate that the child can no longer skateboard, play soccer or ride a bicycle with ease. He also experiences balancing difficulties. In addition, he was teased by his peers, feared being laughed at, and had been emotionally affected by the incident. But the city denies it is at fault.

If, however,

the court found that it was negligent, it would argue that the child was partly to blame because he and his friends lifted the merry-go-round and carried it around the park, before it fell on his foot.

The city says that, at his age, he had the capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions, and should have known that, by lifting the merry-go-round, he could injure himself.

The city also alleges that the child’s mother was partly to blame because she did not exercise proper control over him.

In addition, it claims that the mother failed to take care of her son’s wound, which saw him readmitted to hospital days later, and his toe amputated.

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