Pretoria - A loose door handle which penetrated a pupil’s eye when a fellow pupil opened the door, will cost the Gauteng Department of Education dearly.
Beauty Segole is claiming more than R1.9 million in damages from the department, on behalf of her daughter Aisha, who will be 16 later this month.
She lost all sight in her one eye due to the broken door handle which hit her point blank in the eye when she was 12 and attending the Emasangweni Primary School in Mamelodi. Aisha was a Grade 5 pupil at the time.
Her mother stated in papers before the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, that the accident was due to the negligence of the school, which was not supervising the children at the time.
The department this week agreed to accept 100% liability for the incident and the damages suffered by the teenager. Deputy Judge Aubrey Ledwaba made the agreement an order of court.
The agreement included an undertaking from the department to pay certain costs incurred by Segole up to date regarding the legal proceedings.
The parties will, at a later stage, be back in court to determine the amount of damages to be awarded to Segola.
She is, among others, claiming for the pain and suffering she and her child had to endure due to the accident, as well as for medical expenses.
It was stated that Aisha was standing next to a door to her classroom on July 30, 2014, when a fellow pupil opened the door. The handle hit her in the right eye.
The handle was broken before the incident and it is said that the residual metal was extremely sharp and ragged. The force of the impact caused the metal to penetrate straight into the teenager’s right eyeball.
Her teacher contacted her mother, who rushed her to the Stanza Bopape Clinic. She was informed that they were not equipped to deal with the injury.
They then sent her to the Mamelodi Hospital, where the mother was told their equipment was out of order. She was then sent to the Steve Biko Academic Hospital.
Aisha eventually lost her eye and she was fitted with a prosthesis.
Apart from complaining that there was no supervision in the classroom at the time, the mother also said the school was negligent as it had to remove the broken door handle as soon as possible, so that it did not pose a danger to the children.
She said the teachers failed to carry out their duties and responsibilities and that the department was thus responsible for the damages.
These facts were not disputed by the department.
The mother said the incident had left her child traumatised, especially the fact that she now had impaired vision.
Her lawyer, Olof Joubert, said: “The loss of this beautiful young girl’s eye not only had an impact on her physically, but also emotionally. We will endeavour to have her compensated accordingly.”