Francistown High Court Judge, Terrence Rrannowane, last week ruled that Galehete Lambane, a Francistown man, should be awarded P20 000 as compensation for damages after his HIV/Aids status was publicly disclosed by a medical doctor who was based at Nyangabwe Referral Hospital. According to the plaintiff’s summons as served through his Lawyer, Kagiso Jani, of Tshekiso Ditiro and Jani Legal Practice, sometime between July and December 2006, Dr Maria Ristig, a foreign national, took a sample of blood from Lambane who was suffering from a disease called Hemophilia. She then informed him that there was a new drug on the market and she wanted to test his blood to see if it could be of any help to him.
The doctor then discharged him and the disease became worse. The plaintiff went back to the hospital, now accompanied by his wife. The Dr Ristig then brought the results saying, in public view, that he was HIV positive.
He further states in the summons that the doctor ignored him after the announcement and no counseling was even done prior to announcing the results.
The plaintiff claims that he was seriously hurt by how the doctor handled his results as he suffered humiliation, lost his marriage and demanded to be compensated a sum of P120 000 for damages.
On the other hand the defense lawyer, Nomsa Buno, from the Attorney General Chambers, had argued that the plaintiff failed to prove that his HIV status was announced in public because he did not mention the names of the people who were present when the announcement was made.
However, in his verdict, Justice Rannowane said that although the plaintiff could not specify the people who were there when results were announced, it would not lessen the impact of the announcement and manner of making it.
“I think it would be unfair to say that the plaintiff felt less humiliated, insulted and traumatized only of that reason,” the Judge said.
He added that the plaintiff suffered as he was never told that he was going to be tested and his authority was never sought. He also said that the court also took into consideration the fact that the defendant, Dr Kristig, is no longer in the country which will also be unfair to the defendant as some of the critical information was not pleaded.
He further said that the government and Non Governmental Organizations have been disseminating information about HIV Aids and it is no longer shocking to hear that one has HIV.
“Having considered all these factors, I am satisfied that an award of P20 000 will meet the justice of this case,” he said.