Health dept sued for botched circumcision

South Africa
Friday 7 June 2013

The national and Mpumalanga health departments are being sued for R10.7 million after a botched circumcision in which a nine-year-old boy lost the tip of his penis.

A correspondent reported on Friday that the boy, who cannot be named because he is a minor, was mutilated at Barberton Hospital five years ago.

“The matter has been referred to the State attorney, as we were sued for alleged medical negligence for an amount of R10.7 million,” Mpumalanga health spokesman Ronnie Masilela said.

“At this stage, we have only received a letter of demand and summons will surely be served, but it has not yet been served.”

Lawyer Milile Labe, who is representing the boy’s family, said the case had been taken to the High Court in Pretoria.

“The case is before the Pretoria High Court as we speak. The court has asked that we provide information on the kind of treatment the boy underwent. I have requested the file from the hospital in order for us to be able to proceed with the case,” said Labe.

Once the proper documentation had been presented to court, the summons would be signed by the court clerk and served, he said.

Earlier, national health spokesman Fidel Hadebe said the provincial department was better placed to handle the matter.

“Lawsuits of this nature are being made against respective MECs. It is at provincial level that service delivery takes place, not nationally,” Hadebe said.

However, the department was concerned about incidents of negligence that led to lawsuits.

“The department is currently putting in place measures that are geared at improving the quality of care so that, hopefully, we don’t have incidents of negligence and lawsuits.

“We expect affected departments to take measures against those healthcare workers who are found to be responsible for these incidents of negligence,” said Hadebe.

The boy’s mother, who also cannot be named to protect his identity, said a medical intern had performed the procedure on her son, who was now in Grade Three at a primary school in Barberton.

“The intern attached the glans back on the penis, but after five days it fell off. I took the piece back to the hospital, where they put it into a container. They then sent my son and the piece to Pretoria to get it reattached, but that procedure failed as well.

“To this day my boy still feels pain in his groin, especially when he tries to urinate,” she said.

The doctor told her the boy needed to undergo further medical treatment to be able to have sex in future.

“I made this shocking discovery after my lawyer took the boy to the doctor,” said the mother.

A report by urologist Mohamed Haffejee – which is part of the documents submitted to court – confirmed that the boy would experience problems later in life.

“In future he may have some sexual dysfunction related to decreased sensation and inability to reach orgasm due to the amputation of the glans.

“There may also be resulting psycho-social problems as a consequence of the amputation, related to low self-esteem,” Mohamed’s report stated.