A 62-year-old woman who had to be hospitalised after a forklift ran over her at the Tshwane Fresh Produce Market two years ago has won the first leg of her legal battle for compensation.
Judge Daisy Molefe ruled in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria that Subtropico Market Agents, which employed the forklift driver, was liable for 100% of the damages suffered by Natvidade de Sousa in the accident in April 2014.
The amount she must receive will only be determined at a later stage.
De Sousa, a buyer at the market, was walking down an aisle when the forklift hit her from behind, seriously injuring her. A video of the incident showed that she had been in an area where pedestrians were permitted to walk. She was walking in the middle of the aisle when the forklift ran over her.
The driver of the forklift, Alfred Gaanamong, testified that he could not see in front of him because he had crates of bananas packed on the front of the forklift. He could not drive in reverse because there were trailers packed with more bananas at the back.
He said he had not seen De Sousa and had just felt the impact and heard people screaming. He had assumed that she had emerged from behind a pillar and crossed the aisle, which was why he had not seen her.
The forklift driver’s manager conceded that the market was a hive of activity but that someone visiting it could assume that the driver of a forklift would be able to see them. Subtropico denied any negligence and insisted the accident was the result of De Sousa‘s negligence, or that she had at least contributed to the accident.
Molefe said the driver had conceded that he could not see in front of him, which made driving inherently dangerous.
She said a reasonable driver would have foreseen the possibility that he could hit a pedestrian under the circumstances and that De Sousa could not have anticipated that she would be hit by a forklift she could not see.