Pretoria - Gauteng taxpayers have had to fork out more than R17 million this week to pay damages to two mothers whose babies were left severely disabled due to negligence at provincial hospitals.

The North Gauteng High Court dealt with the matters where negligence led to the infants being disabled due to a lack of oxygen.

On Thursday, Judge Cynthia Pretorius ordered the Gauteng premier to pay R11.1m to the parents of a boy who was born nine years ago with brain damage.

His parents, Brenda Mdlalose and Arnold Vilika, turned to court following the birth of Magkabangewe in July 2005 at the Dr George Mukhari Hospital in Ga-Rankuwa. The mother was admitted to the labour ward after blood was found in her urine. She was only taken to theatre two days later for a Caesarean and her baby was born with brain damage.

The couple stated in court papers that the doctors and staff at the hospital failed to treat or care for her before the birth. According to them, the staff didn’t monitor her labour, although it was clear the foetus was in distress. The woman said it was clear that she urgently needed a Caesarean when she could not deliver the baby naturally, yet this was only done several hours later. She was told by a doctor about two weeks after the birth of her son that he was going to be “a vegetable” because of the prolonged birth.

The couple took their son to a specialist a few months later as the baby cried incessantly. Tests revealed that he did indeed suffer brain damage due to “things which went wrong during birth”.

The child is a spastic quadriplegic and cannot talk, sit or walk.

The Gauteng MEC for Health was earlier this week ordered to pay R6.1m to the Soweto mother of a 5-year-old girl who has severe cerebral palsy. The mother claimed that doctors at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto only performed a Caesarean on her hours after the foetus was in distress.

One of the reasons given for the delay was that there were no operation theatres available.

Lethabo Matawa, who is also partially blind, can’t care for herself and will be dependent on others for the rest of her life.

The health authorities first denied liability in both cases, but later agreed to pay damages before the matters went to trial.

Pretoria News