Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
15 Aug 2013
6:01 am

R23.5m damages for school ground accident

Ilse de Lange

A young Cape Town man whose hopes of following in his father and grandfather's footsteps to become a High Court judge were shattered when he sustained a severe head injury in a school ground accident, has been awarded over R23.5 million damages.

Image courtesy stock.xchnge

KwaZulu-Natal Judge Piet Koen ordered the Gauteng education MEC to compensate 24-year-old Christian Rabie for his future medical costs, loss of income and earning capacity and the general damages he suffered.

The award will be administered by a trust to be created. The department was also ordered to pay a total amount of R748 000 to Christian’s father, North Gauteng High Court Judge Carl Rabie, for his son’s past medical and related costs.

The department was ordered to pay the legal costs of the application, including the costs of 17 expert witnesses.

Rabie Jnr sustained serious head and other injuries in a 2003 accident at the Hoërskool Waterkloof in Pretoria when he was thrown into the air by other schoolboys – but instead of being caught, he landed on his head.

He spent 45 days on a ventilator, developed epilepsy, had to undergo numerous operations and will need further surgery and therapy in the future.

Whereas he had shown great sporting promise before the accident, he was unable to return to physical sports and also battled academically, in contrast to his previous above-average performance.

The High Court ruled in 2006 that the education MEC was liable for the damages he sustained.

According to expert reports Rabie Jnr’s cognitive impairments were the direct result of the accident and would always and in all contexts act as debilitating obstacles in his life.

Judge Koen said Rabie Jnr’s intention had always been to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, a former Chief Justice, and his father and join the Bar.

In reality, his life since he matriculated in 2007 had been a “fighting retreat” from that ambition and his injuries have placed things like a career in law beyond his grasp.

“He still has to come to terms with the full impact of his injuries. This will be a painful realisation. There will be bleak times in the future … but he will follow a career and, with his resilience, might do so very successfully, although at a lower income level and although with some difficulty,” the judge said.