A mother whose child died after their house was sprayed with chemicals that kill bats, rats, cockroaches, mosquitoes and other insects has dragged the Tawana Land Board to court seeking compensation for the loss of her toddler.
The bereaved mother, together with a couple that was taking care of her child at the time of the death, are jointly suing the Tawana Landboard a total sum of P1 800 000.00. According to documents filed by their Maun based lawyers Lumbile Legal Practice, before Francistown High Court Judge Nyamadzabo, on the 9th September 2016, the Landboard hired a company to carry out a fumigation exercise at the couple’s house in Sanyedi ward in Maun. The couple lives in a Staff house as one of them is an employee of the Tawana Landboard.
‘‘As a direct result of the fumigation exercise, which was done at the specific instance and behest of the Tawana Landboard without prior consultation or approval of the plaintiffs, a minor child born to the 1st Plaintiff but under the care and custody of the 2nd and 3rd Plaintiffs, suffered from chemical poisoning which led and caused her death on the 10th September 2016’’, the court papers reveal.
The lawyers claim that the death of the toddler was a direct consequence of the Landboard’s hired fumigation company’s unlawful and/or wrongful acts and has occasioned loss to the bereaved parents.
They demand P350 000.00 for each of the plaintiffs (mother and the couple that was taking care of the child), making up a total of P1 050 000.00 which will go towards compensation for severe psychological trauma and emotional shock. For psychiatric treatment and counselling, they are each demanding P225 000.00, totalling P675 000.00. A further P75 000.00 is demanded for funeral costs and ancillary expenses.
The Board members of the Tawana Landboard are said to have reported the Landboard Secretary to the Police for misrepresenting them in the matter. According to some of the Board members who spoke to this publication on condition of anonymity, the Landboard Secretary kept the matter away from them and went on to respond to the court papers without seeking its resolution authorising the Secretary to act in the matter.
‘‘We have reported her to the Police because she submitted false information to the High Court’’, one of the Board members said. They distanced themselves from an affidavit deposed by the Landboard Secretary in which she claims there was a Board meeting held on 27th September 2018 in which it was resolved that the Landboard will defend the lawsuit.
Interestingly, the Landboard Secretary Gabofhete Elizabeth Raditladi signed the affidavit on the 25th of September 2018 yet she claims to be relying on minutes of a meeting held on 27th September 2018. In purported response by the Landboard to the legal proceedings, Raditladi informed the court that the Landboard is not indebted to the bereaved parents ‘‘because the actions that led to the death of the minor child were not as a result of any actions of the Landboard’’ and that an independent contractor’s actions are the ones which caused the death of the child.
According to Court papers the Landboard, through its Secretary advised that it will make an application to join the independent contractor as a party to the proceedings.
The Board members contend that the Landboard Secretary has no authority to represent the Landboard without a resolution from the Board.