Margaret Adams was in for a disappointing engagement with security giant Fidelity Security, after one of their security guards shot her on January 4.
Adams was in a queue inside the Reiger Park Post Office to collect her pension when a security guard dropped his rifle and a shot went off, hitting Adams in the leg.
After she was rushed to Tambo Memorial Hospital, a government hospital in the East Rand, and stabilised, the doctors informed her she needed arthroplasty surgery on her knee to treat the extensive damage caused by the bullet.
Fearing that she may lose her leg, Adams wanted to go to a private hospital to have the operation and further medical assessment done there.
Without medical aid and dependent on her R1 900 a month SA Social Security Agency grant to survive, she approached a lawyer to speak to Fidelity Security and find out if they would fund her medical bills for the operation she needs.
Her lawyer, Sian van der Weele, wrote to Fidelity on January 31, asking for an undertaking that they would cover the costs of the urgent operation. No response was forthcoming. Adams remains in a wheelchair.
“As an employee, in course and scope of his employment, injures a third party, the employer is liable for damages. In this case Fidelity would have no defence. They also have huge insurance covering them against events like this” Frans Mashele, a Johannesburg lawyer, remarked.
After further attempts by Adams’ lawyer to speak to Fidelity, their lawyer eventually responded, 10 weeks after she was shot, but it was hardly the response Adams expected.
“Our client will not pay for your client’s medical expenses,” Martin Hood, Fidelity‘s lawyer, said to Van der Weele.
Hood accused Adams of opportunism for demanding that Fidelity pay for her private health care, "where she is not entitled to such private health care". Hood further said that Adams was "welcome to institute action against Fidelity".
A shocked Van der Weele wrote to Hood, accusing him of insensitivity, and remarked that the attitude reflected in his correspondence, could hardly be in line with the policies of Fidelity and their instructions to him. Hood didn’t respond.
“It is very difficult for a poor, elderly person to litigate against a corporate, no matter how strong the case is. Litigation requires time and money. Margaret (Adams) has neither,” Mashele remarked.
Independent Media sent questions to Hood and Fidelity, seeking comment on the events. Fidelity did not respond, but Hood did.
He said that Adams was threatening Fidelity with legal proceedings and that the matter is sub judice. Hood also said that Fidelity "will not comment or debate the merits in public".
“Legal proceedings have not started. The matter is not sub judice. Hood is not only wrong, but his insensitivity to the lady’s plight does not serve his client well,” a legal expert informed Independent Media.
“I just want the best possible treatment to save my leg,” Adams said. “I feel like I felt 40 years ago when PW (Botha) was in charge.”