Nail gun incident at work site results in charges

Community Court Featured

PICTOU – Sweeping reaction has followed a work site incident where an employee was shot in the back with a nail gun.

Nhlanhla Dlamini, 21, is recovering from surgery required to address the injuries he suffered.

He has declined commenting on the matter since the social media storm that has ensued over it. However, his mother, Stacey Dlamini, said she intends to respond strongly to what happened and her son’s treatment while working at the job site.

“We’re looking at our options,” she said. “I’m not going to rest until everyone involved is held accountable. I’m going to help him see it through.”

Stacey Dlamini said Nhlanhla had been working at the construction site of a new home in Abercrombie for three weeks when he was shot with what was described as a 3.51/2-inch nail on September 19.

Pictou District RCMP charged a 43-year-old man last Friday with one count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm. He was arrested on September 27, and released on conditions to have no contact with the victim.

“There were so many things in a three-week period,” she said.

Nhlanhla has demonstrated an aptitude and affinity for carpentry and took a course in carpentry at the Nova Scotia Community College in Stellarton. He did not complete the course but looked forward to joining the project in Abercrombie.

Nhlanhla was among workers building a new home for local property developer and landlord Paul Quinn.

“He thought this was his dream job,” she said, while describing times when his jacket and boots were tampered with and nails were thrown at him.

She said Nhlanhla was driven home after the nail gun shooting before she drove him to the hospital in New Glasgow, where he underwent emergency surgery and spent four days there.

The nail penetrated Nhlanhla’s back deep enough to affect his breathing. It was found his lung was 25 per cent collapsed. His asthma made breathing more of a challenge, Stacey said.

She said the nail was pulled out of the wound, which she said caused air in the wound to fill up his chest cavity and deflate his lung.

“He’s seeing a doctor to see when he can go back to work,” Stacey said, while noting he’s not returning to the work site.

Stacey Dlamini also referred to an incident report Quinn’s lawyer Craig Clarke prepared that refuted the Dlamini’s claims, although she said her son was not interviewed about the matter. She has since shared a letter sent to Clarke and Quinn asking for a public apology. It can be viewed below.

Clarke was away for the weekend and not immediately available for comment.

The man charged is scheduled to appear in Pictou Provincial Court on December 21. The RCMP are continuing the investigation.




To the Editor,

cc. Paul Quinn (via email)

Craig Clarke (via email)



Firstly, on behalf of my family we would like to thank the many individuals from Pictou County, around the province and across the nation who have expressed their empathy to us in light of the incident in which our son, Nhlanhla Dlamini, was shot with a nail gun while at work. Many have expressed shock and disbelief as well as outrage that this has happened. Our son’s story has the potential to spark many positive conversations that can bring change as once again we are forced to confront the issue of racism in our community, and this is indeed our hope. The situation also has the potential to create further conflict and division, thus we respectfully request that in voicing your feelings about the incident, the community refrain from name-calling and personal attacks against the Accused as well as the owner of the company, PQ Properties Ltd., Mr Paul Quinn.


What really happened that day is the subject of a court case, and we hope and believe that justice will be served. However, what has greatly offended our family is the position taken by Mr Paul Quinn and released through his lawyer Craig Clarke of MacIsaac Clarke & Duffy that our son’s injury was “not serious.” When I arrived at the hospital on the day of the incident, I phoned Mr Quinn from my cell phone and spoke to him directly, with 4 people present in the room who witnessed my part of the conversation. I told him that I was with our son in Emergency, and that he was awaiting an operation as his lung had been punctured by a nail and had partially collapsed. I have phone records to prove that a conversation between myself and Mr Quinn happened.


I wish to highlight that at no point has Mr Quinn contacted our family or our son to get his version of the events of Sept. 19th. The first official statement from Mr Quinn through his lawyer Mr Clarke was that the injury required basic treatment with a Band-Aid on site, and that even at the hospital the injury was also treated with only a Band-Aid. This information is patently false, and we do not know where it came from. As a family we find this to be profoundly disrespectful and insulting. This disrespect has not only affected us as a family, but has also affected the entire black community here in Pictou County, and beyond. This is evidenced by the anti-racism rally held in New Glasgow on Monday October 8th. What is indisputable is that Nhlanhla was hospitalized for four days from Sept. 19 – Sept. 22, and that he spent three of these days with a tube inserted into his chest cavity to release the air that had built up once the Accused pulled the nail from his back.


As a family, we are asking for a public apology from Mr Quinn for saying that injury was “not serious.” He knew it was serious, because I told him. It must be publicly recognized that our son’s life, and his body, matters.



Stacey Dlamini