The Mpumalanga education MEC was yesterday ordered to pay R340 000 damages to a 19-year-old man who, as a teenager, was severely injured when his school friends shoved a compressed air pipe into his rectum.
A settlement between the young man and the MEC was confirmed as an order of the court by Judge Cynthia Pretorius.
The MEC was ordered to pay almost R65 000 to cover his past medical costs in May.
His father, a retired Mpumalanga mineworker, and his mother initially instituted a R700 000 damages claim against the MEC after a November 2011 incident at the special school in Mpumalanga where their son was a pupil.
The teenager suffered severe intestinal injuries and his rectum was ruptured when pupils grabbed him violently, bent him forward and pumped compressed air into his anus using equipment they had found in a classroom.
He lost consciousness and was first taken to Belfast Hospital and then Middelburg Hospital where he had an emergency operation to save his life.
He spent four days in intensive care, suffered severe shock and experienced extreme pain. He had trauma counselling and will need further medical treatment and trauma counselling in future.
The boy’s mother also sued the MEC for her emotional shock when she learnt of the assault on her son, which resulted in her being hospitalised for psychiatric treatment, but later withdrew her claim.
The attack took place during school time in full view of the boy’s classmates and while their teacher was outside the classroom.
The boy’s parents claimed the teachers had been negligent because they knew the pupils suffered from learning disabilities, had special needs, exhibited behavioural problems and should not be without proper supervision where they had access to and could use equipment in a dangerous and unlawful manner.
The MEC initially denied the incident had taken place at all, but the court ruled in November last year that the department was fully liable for the damages.