Mapingure v. Minister of Home Affairs

A month after the rape, the appellant’s pregnancy was formally confirmed, she then informed the investigating police officer of her pregnancy who referred her to a public prosecutor. She was told by the prosecutor that she had to wait until the rape trial had been completed to have her pregnancy terminated. At the direction of the police, she returned to the prosecutor’s office four months later and was advised that she required a pregnancy termination order. The prosecutor requested that a magistrate certify the termination. The magistrate said he could not assist because the rape trial had not been completed. She eventually obtained the necessary magisterial certificate nearly six months after the rape, the hospital felt that it was no longer safe to carry out the termination procedure. The appellant carried to full term and gave birth to a child. The applicant brought an action against the Ministers of Home Affairs, Health and Justice for damages for the physical and mental pain, anguish and stress she suffered and care for the child until the child turned 18. The basis of the claim was that the employees of the three Ministries concerned were negligent in their failure to prevent the pregnancy or to expedite its termination. The particulars of negligence were itemized. Her claim was dismissed. The questions for determination on appeal were (i) whether or not the respondents’ employees were negligent in responding to the appellant, (ii) if they were, whether the appellant suffered any actionable harm as a result of such negligence and, (iii) if so, whether the respondents were liable for damages for pain, suffering, and the care of her child. The Supreme Court held, on appeal, that the State was liable for failing to provide the appellant with emergency contraception to prevent the pregnancy and ordered it to pay damages. However, the court dismissed the claim that the State was liable for failing to ensure a timely termination of the pregnancy and in turn that they were liable to pay for the care of the child. The case was referred back to the High Court for a determination of the amount of damages.



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