The Road Accident Fund (RAF) has been ordered to pay R2.71 million damages to a young pedestrian who lost his left leg after a speeding motorist lost control of her car and hit him next to the road.
Senzo Khumalo, 23, an information technology student from Nelspruit, and his friend Thulani Gumbi were walking next to the road between White River and Hazyview one afternoon in January 2014 when they saw a car approaching them at high speed, with the driver appearing to have lost control of the vehicle.
They tried to run away, but the driver, Amelia Ndlovu, hit both of them next to the road. Khumalo fractured both legs in the accident and his left leg had to be amputated above the knee.
Expert reports say the young man now felt socially isolated, battled to cope with his disability and suffered from depression. Ndlovu claimed she had experienced an emergency as she had seen two men running across the road at the same time that a car was overtaking her at high speed and another vehicle was coming from the opposite direction.
She claimed she had swerved to avoid the car overtaking her, causing her to collide with a rock which flew into the air and hit her windscreen before rolling to the ground and hitting Khumalo’s leg.
However, an accident report confirmed that the car’s windscreen had not been damaged and that the accident had taken place next to the road. Ndlovu also failed to mention either of the other two cars in her initial statement to the police.
Judge Nomonde Mngqibisa-Thusi rejected Ndlovu’s evidence and found she had probably lost control at high speed and that her negligence had caused the accident. She said Khumalo’s friend had corroborated his version and Ndlovu’s account of the accident was not plausible.
She said the fact that the point of impact was not on the road, but outside of it, established an inference of negligence and the RAF could not prove Khumalo had contributed to the accident in any way.
The judge ordered the RAF to pay Khumalo R1.51 million damages for his loss of earnings and R1.2 million as general damages. The RAF must also provide him with an undertaking to pay for his future medical and related costs, including the costs of prosthesis for the rest of his life.