Blind man sues City

2019-11-19 15:55
Gregor Dennis Ian Peel, a blind man, is suing Msunduzi after he fell in a hole allegedly dug by City workers.PHOTO: KERUSHUN PILLAY

Gregor Dennis Ian Peel, a blind man, is suing Msunduzi after he fell in a hole allegedly dug by City workers.PHOTO: KERUSHUN PILLAY

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A blind man wants Msunduzi Municipality to pay more than R100 000 in damages after he fell into a hole dug by City workers.

Gregor Dennis Ian Peel (76), who lives in Scottsville, has taken the council to court after sustaining a cut to his eyelid, an injury to his right thigh and “psychological shock” during the incident which happened in 2006.

Peel is claiming R6 135,62 for medical expenses already incurred and future expenses, and another R100 000 for “general damages” for pain, shock and disfigurement.

He has also asked the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court to order Msunduzi to foot his legal costs.

The municipality has, however, denied responsibility and claimed Peel was the “master of his own demise/injury/damage” because he failed to take the necessary precautions to avoid falling into the hole.

Peel was due to take the stand and give evidence on Monday but the matter was adjourned to January. His fall was reported in The Witness at the time but he was not quoted in the story.

In a summons before court he alleges that he fell into a hole at the corner of Thomas and Church streets, which had been dug by members of Msunduzi’s electricity department in April 2006. Peel has retinitis pigmentosa — a disease that impairs sight, and uses a cane. Although Msunduzi had erected “pins and ribbons” around the hole, Peel still claims that the City failed to “provide adequate warning” of possible danger such a hole could present to the handicapped.

He also alleges that the ribbons were not placed properly, resulting in his failure to detect them.

He said Msunduzi failed to “provide a barrier around the hole”.

Msunduzi, meanwhile, has asked the court to dismiss the case with costs, and has accused Peel of actually being the negligent one for not taking proper precautions, including not walking with a guide dog or an assistant.

The City has questioned whether the hole was indeed dug by its employees, but nevertheless said it could not be found in breach of its duty for failing to take extra precautions to prevent such an incident happening to a handicapped person, saying that such action would place “too harsh a burden” on the City.

Msunduzi said foreseeing that a blind person would be in such a danger cannot be part of its responsibilities.

The City claimed that its erecting of ribbons and tape was evidence that it had taken sufficient safety precautions.

It said it was Peel’s “own negligence that caused the injuries” and claimed he should have felt the tape against his body and should have “refrained from proceeding forward”.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  court case

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