Gauteng Health MEC Dr Gwen Ramokgopa Picture: Thobile Mathonsi

Johannesburg - A court has ordered Gauteng Health MEC Dr Gwen Ramokgopa to take responsibility for the death of a rugby who died four years ago in hospital.

This was after Zacharius Johannes De Lange died at Steve Biko Hospital after sustaining a spinal cord injury while playing rugby.

According to the family's lawyer Jean-Paul Rudd, De Lange sustained a spinal cord injury while playing rugby on September 18 2015 and paramedics transferred him to the Steve Biko Hospital by ambulance.

"Following De Lange’s admission at the Steve Biko Hospital, he was diagnosed with an incomplete quadriplegic. Incomplete quadriplegia occurs when there is damage to the cervical spinal cord," Rudd explained.

"Medical personnel at Steve Biko scheduled him for a cervical decompression in attempt to reduce the compression. But De Lange developed significant respiratory dysfunction and eventually passed away on 21 September 2015 from cardiac arrest despite attempts to resuscitate him."

He said the family believed his death was preventable.

"In expert reports filed, it was alleged that the standard of medical care, treatment, management and monitoring of De Lange fell way below the skill, care and diligence one could have expected from medical personnel in a similar situation," he said

Rudd added that despite Ramokgopa denying the alleged negligence and appointing counsel to defend the matter, Judge Baitseng Rangata of the North Gauteng High Court ruled this week that the she was liable to compensate De Lange’s wife and two children for 100% of the damages they sustained following his death.

"On Monday we obtained judgement in liability of the MEC. De Lange was a breadwinner so at this stage, we have applied for a quantum trial date," Rudd said.

He explained that a quantum trial date was to determine how much the family needed to be compensated for his alleged negligent death.

"The first thing that would need to be determined is how much the deceased would have earned even in his injured state. Secondly, we also need to take into account the emotional shock and trauma the family would have endured and this will be determined through psycho social support services."  

He added that the process would only be finalised next year as it would take a year to obtain a date for quantum trial.

The Department of Health's spokesperson Lesemang Matuka said they were reviewing the judgement and could not comment further. 

The Star