Victims of bridge collapse must prove negligence, say lawyers

Johannesburg - The burden of proof of negligence would be on the victims of Wednesday’s bridge collapse over the M1 highway on Grayston Drive if any of them decide to institute a civil claim against Murray & Roberts, lawyers have said.

Leon Malan of Malan & Mohale Attorneys in Pretoria said if the 23 injured victims and the relatives of the two people who died decided to sue, they would have to ­ensure they had proof of what caused the ­collapse.

Although Murray & Roberts has undertaken to compensate the victims and relatives by “covering their costs”, a lawsuit could still follow.

Asked who may be held liable for the tragic collapse, Malan said: “It depends – one would first have to see what caused the bridge to collapse and there would be a proper investigation. It could be established that there was another contractor hired to erect the bridge and all of those companies could be named in a lawsuit. But you’ll most likely find all parties might become defendants in a lawsuit.”

Mokgadi Pela, spokesperson for the department of labour, said it would issue a report on its preliminary investigation next week, while Murray & Roberts and the City of Joburg are also believed to be investigating the incident.

“I'd assume those companies have the necessary insurance in place to cover themselves in the event of such civil claims,” said Malan.

Murray & Roberts’ share price nose-dived on Thursday, but picked up later in the day amid harsh criticism on social networks.

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