Health to defend N$30m lawsuit

24 January 2019 | Health

The health ministry and former minister Bernhard Haufiku are ready to defend a N$30 million lawsuit seeking damages for alleged negligence that led to the death of Victor Kamwi Liwela at Katutura state hospital in December 2016.

The deceased's brother, Obrine Katanekwa Liwela (42), filed the lawsuit in June last year.

He claimed that his brother, who would have turned 48 in December, died two days after being admitted to hospital, leaving behind four children now in the care of other family members. “We lost our brother, father and husband due to premature death caused by [the] government. This is the cry from all the people, friends, colleagues and neighbours.

“The void he left cannot be filled by anyone,” the claim filed by Liwela states. “His death came as a surprise to me, because he was talking when I left the hospital that afternoon,” he added.

The N$30 million demand for damages is based on three separate claims.





Liwela is asking the court to award him damages of N$10 million for medical negligence, plus N$10 million for child support.

He says his brother was the sole breadwinner who took care of his children, “and there is no one who can fill that space in my family”.

Another sum of N$10 million is demanded for “premature death”, which Liwela claims was due to the hospital's failure to care for his brother.

The papers do not specify what the original health complaint was that led Liwela to take his brother to hospital.

A death certificate filed alongside the particulars of claim confirms Victor Kamwi Liwela died of “lower respiratory tract infection” on 16 December 2016.



Two-day nightmare

Liwela states that he took his brother to hospital on 14 December 2016.

He states his brother was not given any medication for the next two days, and was only provided with one “drip of water or a bottle of water” on the first day.

He further claims that no food was given to his brother on his first day in hospital.

The day after his brother was admitted, Liwela claims he visited him in the morning and was told by a “student doctor” that if his brother smoked, he “should be taken for tuberculosis tests before he could receive any treatment”.

Liwela claims that on the second day, his brother was again not given any medication or food and was not taken for any tests.

“That means he did not receive any medicine for two days, only drip,” the claim states.

He alleges that instead of taking his brother to the intensive care unit (ICU), he was placed in a ward “with ordinary sick people and no medical attention”.

Papers filed at the Windhoek High Court this week show that the ministry intends to defend the matter.

Liwela's application in December for a Legal Aid lawyer to assist with the case was successful, with Messe Tjituri from Tjituri Law Chambers set to handle the matter on his behalf.

Mkhululi Khupe will act on behalf of the ministry in the matter.

The case has been postponed to 19 February for a status hearing.

JANA-MARI SMITH