Photo of Priscilla Tobeka Jantjies (Supplied)
Photo of Priscilla Tobeka Jantjies (Supplied)

Routine tooth extraction turns into nightmare for Jeffreys Bay woman

By Sithandiwe Velaphi Time of article published Jun 18, 2021

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Cape Town - What was supposed to be a normal tooth extraction for Priscilla Tobeka Jantjies at the Cecilia Makiwane Hospital in 2002, turned out to be a nightmare, which has left her unable to walk.

Janjties, 45, from Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Cape and who was staying at Mdantsane, near East London, at the time, went to the Mdantsane hospital for a tooth extraction. All she could remember, she said, was when a doctor was removing her tooth.

“I cannot remember much. But shortly after the process had begun, I lost consciousness and I was told I was admitted to the hospital’s ward because I could not walk, see or speak. My tongue was numb and shrinking. It turned out that the tooth extraction affected my nerves. I was unable to walk again ever since that incident,” she said.

Jantjies told the Cape Times that after she was discharged, her husband Thomas took up the matter with the Eastern Cape Department of Health. The Jantjieses wanted the department to compensate the mother of two.

At first, Jantjies said, they could not find the doctor who extracted her tooth. “The doctor’s name was only revealed after we went to report the matter in Pretoria.

“It transpired that the doctor had changed his name though he was still working at the same hospital. But we finally located the doctor and proceeded to sue the department with the assistance of my husband and our legal team.”

The parties agreed for a R500 000 settlement, which the department said was a “gratuitous offer”. But Thomas died in 2017. He had not signed the offer before his death.

In the exchange of communication, Janjties has been telling the department that the death of her husband should not be stopping the claim to be paid to her because it was actually due to her.

“I cannot walk on my own. I am bed-ridden. I don’t have money for transport to go to the provincial offices in Bhisho,” added Janjties.

This week Jantjies went to Bhisho for her claim. “No one helped me as I expected. All I am begging is for the department to do the right thing by paying the R500 000 which was agreed upon. I am still alive and in pain. I do not want to die and leave my children with nothing to survive.”

After struggling to get help, Janjties tried to commit suicide on Tuesday using sharp object on her body. She said she has “had enough” of being sent from pillar to post by the Eastern Cape Department of Health officials regarding her claim.

The department’s provincial spokesperson, Sizwe Kupelo, said: “Following complaints by Ms Jantjies that she suffered disability as a result of a tooth extraction at the Cecilia Makiwane Hospital, an internal investigation was launched and could not find any link between her unfortunate situation and the tooth extraction.

“The family did not accept these findings and an independent specialist was appointed to re-examine the investigation; her own independent opinion arrived at similar conclusions as those of the internal probe.

“The family launched a medico legal claim against the department and different lawyers represented the family and it became clear that there was no link between her condition and the allegations – one of the lawyers pursued the department to compensate on a humanitarian basis

“The family was once offered a gratuitous offer of R500 000 that had been approved conditionally by then accounting officer Dr Siva Pillay, despite the fact that no basis in law justified lawsuit.

’’However, due to attention that this issue received (Pillay) extended such offer to be accepted within 30 days, or face withdrawal; it was never accepted by the family,” said Kupelo.

Kupelo said the matter was referred to the Health Professionals Council of South Africa (HPCSA) for further investigations and “that too could not link the disability with the tooth extraction as alleged”.

He said former health MEC, Nomsa Jajula, led a multi-departmental “humanitarian intervention” into the plight of the family. After engagements with the government, the family requested a proper house and they further requested to be relocated to Jeffreys Bay where the family’s origins were.

“This was agreed to – a new house was built by the Department of Human Settlements and was handed over to the family. Government also provided full furniture for the new house. Vodacom Foundation also donated a Vodacom Mobile Cellular shop to start a business in order to sustain themselves.

“The foundation further undertook to pay all Jantjies daughter Nocawe's educational needs until she finished tertiary. Social development and Sassa processed the disability grant for the complainant – the matter was considered closed.”

Kupelo added: “Unfortunately with the passing of the husband it ended the matter or opportunity for gratuity consideration.”

Cape Times

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