Pothole victim sues province

2009-01-26 00:00

A 53-year-old woman, Hluphile Elda Zuma, is suing KZN for R1,1 million over injuries she sustained in an accident allegedly caused by a massive pothole on the R33 between Keats Drift and Tugela Ferry on December 6, 2004.

According to documents before Judge Jan Combrink in the Pietermaritzburg High Court, the pothole in question was allegedly nine metres long and 2,5 metres wide at its widest point.

KZN Premier S’bu Ndebele and Transport MEC Bheki Cele are defending the part-heard case, which is proceeding in the high court here this week.

The driver of the taxi, Zamani Langa, who has been accused of negligent driving, and taxi operator D. K. Sithole have been joined in the matter as third parties.

Zuma alleges that provincial employees responsible for the upkeep of all provincial roads in KZN were negligent for failing to keep the road in a safe condition.

It is alleged on her behalf that those responsible for doing so, failed to regularly inspect the road, failed to repair the road, failed to erect signs warning motorists of the dangerous condition of the road and failed to close the road or sections of it until the potholes were repaired.

It is alleged in the court papers that, as a result of their negligence, the vehicle in which Zuma was a passenger overturned causing an injury, which resulted in the amputation of her arm below the elbow and other injuries.

Her claim totalling R1 181 600 is for past and future medical costs, her disability, pain, shock, loss of earnings and loss of future earning capacity.

According to court documents, Zuma worked as a chef at Church of Scotland Hospital in Tugela Ferry at the time of the crash and could no longer continue with her work due to her injury.

The province has pleaded that its responsibility to maintain provincial roads is governed by section 9 of the KZN Roads Act, which sets out that the minister is “within available financial resources” responsible for the construction and maintenance of provincial roads. They allege that their employees were not wilful or negligent, but did not do what they should have done “by reason of limited financial constraints”.

The province further alleges that the negligent driving of the taxi driver, contributed to or was the sole cause of the accident.

The case is continuing.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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