686-A car passes a pothole at the Old Pretoria Road Johannesburg 23.04.2012 Picture:DumisaniDube

Pretoria - The Limpopo transport and health authorities are facing a R16.8 million damages claim instituted by a Mokopane (formerly Potgietersrus) man, who suffered severe brain damage when he drove through potholes on a public road, causing him to collide with a telecommunications mast.

It is claimed in papers before the Pretoria High Court that Jeremia Herbst’s brain injury was aggravated when he was taken to the Mokopane Provincial Hospital, where staff and doctors on duty allegedly failed to treat him properly.

Apart from now having round-the-clock care, as he is wheelchair-bound, Herbst’s mental abilities are said to be so impaired that he cannot brief lawyers regarding his claim.

The court this week appointed an advocate to act on his behalf regarding the determination of his civil claim, and if he succeeds in being awarded compensation, to see to it that the money is kept in a trust.

His wife Hielietjie said in court papers her husband suffered a severe head injury in the accident in November, 2009, and was left with permanent neurological impairments.

This led to a personality change, forgetfulness, poor concentration and a host of other problems.

He is also unable to understand the litigation process and cannot manage his affairs.

Doctors have a dim view of his recovery and have recommended that somebody be appointed to manage his affairs and to see to it that if he is compensated, his money is protected.

The multimillion damages claim was instituted against the Limpopo MECs for roads and public transport and health, as well as against the SA National Roads Agency Ltd.

Herbst, 59, was travelling along the R101 between Mookgopong and Mokopane late at night on 28 November 2009. This unlit road consisted predominantly of a single carriage way in each direction, with occasional alternating auxiliary lanes in both directions.

Roadworks were being carried out on this stretch of road.

Allegations are that the warning signs were poor and the road constituted a danger to motorists.

There were no road markings and as it was a narrow stretch, motorists apparently tended to drive close to the shoulder of the road.

Driving on the shoulder, Herbst hit potholes, which caused his vehicle to collide with the telecommunications mast. He was rushed to hospital, where it is said the doctors and nurses took their time to attend to his serious head injuries.

It is claimed that the medical staff were negligent in their treatment of him, as he was not properly examined.

They allegedly also did not secure airflow into his lungs, which aggravated his brain damage owing to a lack of oxygen.

According to court papers he will never recover and will not be able to work again. He used to work as a telesales consultant for a motor manufacturer.

The provincial authorities are set to fight the claim.

Pretoria News