Steaming toilet costs departments dearly

A steaming, bubbling toilet which caused a paraplegic prisoner to suffer burns to his buttocks and private parts will cost the ministers of Public Works and Correctional Services R35 000 in damages, the Star reported on Thursday.

Prisoner Augustino Banze (36) said in papers before the Pretoria High court he went to the toilet at 8.30am on October 16 2004. At the time he was incarcerated at “New Lock Prison”, another name for Central Prison.

“While flushing the toilet, steam and hot water rose from the toilet, causing me severe burns,” he stated.

Banze, who lost the use of his legs after he was shot by police, threw himself off the toilet and shouted for help.

Other prisoners ran to his aid and helped him into his wheelchair. A prison nurse gave him ointment for the burns, but the pain became severe and he was taken to hospital at midnight.

Banze said the prison was being refurbished at the time. He blamed his misfortune on both the departments.

The Public Works Department should have ensured the prison premises were safe while repairs were being done and that the toilets were safe to use, he said.

Both departments should have realised the toilets posed a danger.

Banze said he burnt his buttocks, genitals and upper thighs.

He said he was taken to Kalafong Hospital for treatment and would have to undergo further treatment. He claimed R500 000 for pain and suffering, loss of amenities and disfigurement.

The two departments opposed the claim and denied that steam or hot water rose from the toilet. While denying that he was burnt, they conceded he had to receive medical treatment.

Banze was a paraplegic and “as a result he does not have feeling in his lower body”, the departments argued. He thus could not have suffered loss of amenities of life or disfigurement.

A medical report by a reconstructive surgeon stated that Banze had indeed suffered burns. - Sapa

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