The High Court in Pretoria has ruled that a steel construction company must compensate a Mamelodi nurse for the damages she sustained when a plank forming part of scaffolding fell on her head at a shopping centre eight years ago.
Judge Thifhelimbilu Mudau ruled that Thembi Ngobese, an orthopaedic nurse, had proved the injuries she sustained at the Denlyn Mall in Mamelodi in October 2010, were caused by the negligence of steel construction company Ferro Eleganzie.
He ordered the company to compensate Ngobese, but the amount will only be determined at a later stage.
Ngobese sued the company for R2.8 million after a plank from scaffolding in a passage fell and struck her on her forehead, causing her to fall on her back.
According to court papers she suffered severe injuries to her spine and neck and now had debilitating headaches and found it difficult to carry out her duties as a nurse, which included lifting heavy objects.
Ngobese testified that she was dizzy and recalled “seeing stars” and hearing people screaming after an object from the scaffolding fell on her.
She could not get up and saw two workers looking at her from a hole in the roof.
Two women assisted her to go to the construction site office, where a man offered her money to buy rubbing ointment and bread for her children, which she declined.
Her family took her to hospital where she was examined but discharged the same day.
The shoppers who assisted Ngobese said there were no warning signs or barrier tape and shoppers had no choice but to walk underneath the scaffolding.
One of the women said she had heard a huge sound before Ngobese fell and afterwards saw a plank on the ground while the other said she was walking behind Ngobese when she heard a crumbling sound and saw an object striking her.
The company denied anything from the scaffolding had hit Ngobese and suggested she had bumped into the scaffolding, but admitted there was no barrier tape to keep shoppers away.
Judge Mudau accepted Ngobese’s version and said the company should have foreseen that a member of the public could be injured, but took no steps to avoid such an incident.