Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
11 Nov 2013
7:00 am

Blind man awarded R6m after rubber bullet

Ilse de Lange

A North West tavern owner who lost one eye as a child and became blind when police shot him in the other eye with a rubber bullet, has been awarded over R6 million damages.

The pair had been charged with stock theft. Photo: Supplied

North Gauteng High Court Judge Elizabeth Kubushi awarded the amount to Khutsong businessman Judas Skhabela, 42, following the incident eight years ago which blinded him permanently and rendered him unemployable and dependent on others.

Skhabela had in November 2005 joined a protesting crowd at a soccer stadium in Khutsong and returned home after the group marched to the police station to present their complaints.

He was at home watching television when he heard a group of people singing as they passed by in the main road, behind his house.

He decided to follow the crowd because they were marching in the direction of his business, but ran into the yard of a house and hid behind a brick wall when the police arrived and started firing at the crowd from inside their armored vehicle.

He was peeping through a space between the walls when he felt something hit his right eye, blinding him immediately. The rubber bullet lodged in his nasal cavity and he later coughed it out.

Skhabela claimed the crowd was not violent and had not attacked anyone, but the police claimed the crowd was hostile and had fired on them and attacked them with petrol bombs and rocks.

The court earlier ruled that Skhabela had been hit while he was standing up and that the police had been negligent by shooting from inside the Casper and shooting in the direction of the houses at eye level.

Skhabela told the court he had to hand over his tavern and tuck shop to his wife to run because he was no longer able to check everything, resulting in a loss in profits.

The once vibrant businessman now needed constant assistance and mostly spent his days listening to the radio. The incident had left him disfigured, with unsightly scars on his face.

The judge said Skhabela should be compensated for his loss of earning capacity, medical and other costs, as well as his pain

and suffering.