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Compensation fund will not fund replacement of artificial limbs deliberately lost or damaged

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The Workmen’s Compensation Fund has advised beneficiaries that it will not replace artificial limbs that have been lost or damaged due to negligence.

File picture: REUTERS/Arko Datta

THE WORKMEN’S Compensation Fund has advised beneficiaries that it will not fund the replacement of artificial limbs that have been deliberately lost or damaged.

Windsorton resident Joseph Might, 46, was willing to walk on one foot from Windsorton to request a good Samaritan in Johannesburg for assistance after he lost his leg in a mining accident in 2008.

He has been making use of a broken pair of crutches after he apparently burnt one of the prosthetic limbs that was issued to him.

Family members added that he was living in poverty as the amount paid to him by the Workmen’s Compensation Fund ranged from between R1,500 to R 2,000 per month where he was struggling to survive.

Spokesperson for the Workmen’s Compensation Fund, Hlonitshwa Mpaka, indicated that Might was injured in an accident at his work place in 2008 which resulted in him having to amputate his left leg.

“The leg was amputated above the knee and the physical disability was assessed at 45 percent which is in line with amputation that is about 10 centimetres above the knee joint. Since the inception of the injury the Compensation Fund has provided Might with a prosthetic limb within the prescripts and rules of the legislated Compensation Fund Gazette pertaining to the payment of assistive devices.”

She stated that Might was entitled to a monthly pension amounting to R2,028, 94 per month.

“The calculations are correct according to the salary at the time of the accident. The increases were correctly applied up to date. He is also receiving a social grant of R1,800 per month.”

Mpaka added that according to the claims history, the compensation fund had provided Might with his most recent prosthesis in September 2019 at a cost of just over R200,000.

“In October 2021 the compensation fund received a pre-authorisation request for a refit of a prosthetic leg. As per due process case management was conducted.”

She indicated that prosthetics were funded every five years where Might was eligible to receive a new set in 2024.

“A clause in the gazette also states that prosthetics will not be replaced due to negligent behaviour. It should be noted that the orthotist who submitted the claim in October 2021 for a value of R137,000 whom we contacted telephonically regarding the refit of the prosthesis stated that it should be replaced as the prosthesis was burnt. The medical provider stated he was not aware that the prosthesis was burnt and asked us to reject the request.”

She added that the compensation medical case coordinator conducted a home visit after they were informed by Might’s sister that he had burnt the prosthesis he received in 2019 along with some groceries.

“If a prosthetic limb is broken the client must go with the limb to the orthotist and he will submit a request for repairs. The orthotist informed us telephonically that Might did not consult him with the respective prosthetic limb he received in 2019.”

She explained that Might would have to consult with a medical service provider who would submit an invoice to the compensation fund for the payment for a pair of crutches.

“The compensation fund is not a medical service provider and cannot dispense a crutch. The Compensation Fund will facilitate the process with a medical service provider in Windsorton and inform Might accordingly. However we require his updated contact details and commitment to the scheduled consultation.”

Mpaka stated that the compensation fund was only informed about Might’s mental health condition by his sister.

“The compensation fund does not have access to his mental health records or admissions to any mental health facilities. The work related injury that is registered with the fund is the amputation of the left leg which we have accepted liability and have paid for the respective treatment which is evident with the prosthetic limb he received from the private medical orthotist.”

Joseph Might stands with his broken crutches as he awaits replacements. Picture: Soraya Crowie
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