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Blind betrayal

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Blind betrayal
SEEKING JUSTICE: Agnes Nyilongo

Woman claims OP tricked her to drop a P250 000 lawsuit against Princess Marina

Partially blind and feeling betrayed, 55-year-old Agnes Nyilongo is seething with anger.

She believes the Office of The President (OP) deliberately tricked her into dropping a P250, 000 lawsuit against Princess Marina Hospital after their medical blunder permanently damaged her eyesight.

Nyilongo’s accusations come six years after she was given the wrong Anti retroviral ARV medication by the Gaborone-based referral hospital – a mistake that left her partially blind but for which she has not yet received a thebe in compensation.

Speaking to The Voice this week, her face a torn mixture of anxiety and irritation, Nyilongo reveals she took the incorrectly prescribed medicine for a month.

Medical reports would later confirm that she was given Nevirapine instead of CBV.

During that month – August 2011 – she developed a painful rash, which spread all over her body.

She also contracted an infection in her eye, which caused her to partly lose sight – an infliction that still haunts her today.

Pausing briefly as she reflects on those fateful few days which have shaped her life, the weary-looking woman says a friend advised her to report the matter to The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) in 2014.

They assisted by registering the case with the High Court, with Nyilongo suing Princess Marina, demanding a quarter-of-a-million Pula in compensation.

However, Nyilongo grew increasingly frustrated at the apparent lack of progress being made in the courtroom, with little development being made in a year.

It was at this point that, desperate and disillusioned, she sought the help of the OP.

Nyilongo claims they told her they could only intervene if she withdrew the case from court.

“They instructed me to withdraw the case in 2015 so that they can deal with it administratively – I instinctively did, thinking I will get better assistance.

“My correspondence was with Gaolebogwe Stephen Ngidi, who offered to build me a house under the Presidential Housing Appeal,” she said, adding that it was an offer she gratefully accepted.

Nyilongo revealed that last year she received a letter from the OP – seen by The Voice – indicating that she would be assisted through the poverty eradication project.

“When I enquired about the compensation they said the project has nothing to do with the compensation for the wrong medication,” she continued despairingly, adding that she feels betrayed by the OP and thinks the office deliberately delayed the issue when they realised she had a strong chance of winning.

In August last year, Nyilongo received a final letter from the OP, advising her to take the matter to court if she still wants compensation.

‘These people tricked me and no one wants to take responsibility for my health situation. I went for eye tests and the doctor recommended glasses but I don’t have money to buy them. I really don’t know how I am going to survive and I have no money to pay a lawyer,” she sobbed, her failing eyes filling with angry, hopeless tears.

When contacted for a comment, Ngidi of Office of The President, confirmed they were aware of the matter and that the victim’s file is still ‘active’.

He further confirmed that when Nyilongo came to seek their intervention they told her they did not deal with cases that were before court.

“She decided to withdraw the case from court so that we could deal with it administratively. We engaged the attorney general’s office to deal with the matter. They were to engage doctors for assessment to find out if the government is liable and see if the matter can be settled without going to court. I will find out how they are progressing,” Ngidi told The Voice.

However, Ngidi categorically denied that the OP made Nyilongo quit her legal proceedings.

“We did not force her to withdraw the case and our assistance had nothing to do with compensation for the wrong medication,” he insisted.