Mall crash: Absa sues for damage

2014-04-24 00:00

A SEQUEL to the horror accident when a runaway truck smashed into Liberty Midlands Mall, killing a woman on the night of January 23, 2012, is unfolding in the Pietermaritzburg high court, where Absa Bank is suing the truck owners and other parties.

The bank wants R646 466 for damage caused when the truck careered through the mall parking lot and lodged in the wall of the bank at the mall’s main entrance.

The truck’s owners, Magimax Manufacturing, say in court papers that brake failure placed the truck driver in a “situation of sudden emergency” and that he could not avoid the collision.

Well-known Pietermaritzburg resident and welfare worker Alice Joggessar (69) was killed when she was hit by the truck as she got into a car after having dinner with a friend, but the current law suit does not involve her.

Magimax, Zurich Insurance Company SA Ltd and Green Willow Repair Centre CC, hired to perform maintenance work by Magimax, all deny responsibility for the damage to Absa Bank.

Evidence in the case, which is expected to continue until tomorrow, will include the testimony of several expert witnesses.

Absa Bank alleges in court documents that the accident was caused by the negligence of either Magimax Manufacturing or the truck driver, Thabiso Stephen Motseko, or both.

The bank alleges that the company was negligent for failing to properly maintain its vehicle, for allowing it to be operated on a public road with defective brakes, and for allowing it to be driven in an unroadworthy state.

It is also alleged that Motseko was negligent and had failed to exercise control over the truck.

Magimax denies that it or Motseko were negligent in any way.

However, the company maintains that if the court rules that they were, it in turn lays the blame for any negligence on Green Willow Repair Centre for failing to maintain the vehicle in a roadworthy condition, and specifically for failing to maintain the truck’s brake system.

According to the papers, the company will allege that the truck’s brakes could not lock because of an incorrect adjustment or setting, or that the compressor pipe was not connected to the air tank fitting, causing the system to fail.

It claims that the resultant brake failure created an emergency in which the driver could not avoid the crash.

The case is proceeding.

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