Drain cover replaced three years after fall

KAYLYNN PALM

Fourteen-year old Ryan Serra fell into a drain, injuring his ankle and arm in Assegaaibos Street, Tafelsig, in 2013.

Only three years later – and following an enquiry from the Plainsman – did the City of Cape Town finally fix the problem.

Ryan said he will never forget June 28, 2013, when he came from a tuckshop and fell through the drain in front of his home.

“It was a late afternoon (and) my mother (had) sent me to the shop. The drain is at our gate, so when you open the gate, you step onto the drain. My mother put a wooden board as the cover was stolen months before that. On my way back, with the bread in one hand, I stepped on the board not knowing that it was cracked (and) I fell through.

“It was so painful, I couldn’t even stand on my foot and couldn’t lift myself up. Fortunately, my neighbour saw me falling and ran over to help me, and then my mother and family came,” he said.

Ryan said he was 12 years old at the time and is still experiencing pain. “My ankle swells up and pains, especially during the winter months. My right shoe always wears off over a short period of time (because of the way I walk when I’m in pain) and then my mother has to cough up money for new school shoes all the time.

Ryan’s mother, Nina Serra, said before her son’s accident, the drain cover had been stolen, and residents complained, but were not assisted.

To avoid another accident, Ms Serra moved her gate to the opposite side of the house to avoid her children from stepping in the drain.

She said: “We informed the City of Cape Town about the open drain because it is dangerous for the children and adults walking on the pavement. We then took our own initiative to cover it. When Ryan got hurt, I was furious. He fractured his ankle and broke his finger.

Throughout the three years I have been at the Civic Centre numerous times seeking assistance because he needed help.

“He had medical needs and (we) took action by claiming from the City,” she said.

Community worker and chairperson for Agents of Change, April Engelbrecht has been helping the family and went to the City’s offices on Wednesday February 10 to discuss her case.

“The water meter (readers) check the meters on a monthly basis but do not report the problem,” he said.

Ian Neilson, mayoral committee member for finance, said that on December 12, 2013 the City wrote to Ms Serra to request all medical accounts, hospital and doctor’s reports and the substantiation of the amount claimed, relative to the incident.

“Since then, the City has received no correspondence from Ms Serra, until Wednesday February 10 this year when Renier van der Berg from the City’s Insurance Department was visited by Mr Engelbrecht who submitted a letter to indicate that he is acting on behalf of Mrs Serra and also to claim R189 000,” he said.

Mr Neilson said the City is currently in the process of obtaining more detailed information to come to an amicable settlement offer.

After the Plainsman’s media enquiry, Ernest Sonnenberg, mayoral committee member for utility services, said on Tuesday February 16 that the local depot would inspect the site, determine the responsible party, and investigate the allegations. On Friday February 19 he told the Plainsman the investigation will form part of the claims process. And added that the drain covers had been replaced.