The South African Defence Force (SANDF) has been ordered to compensate the Kruger Park game ranger who was injured when a soldier accidentally shot him during an operation to catch rhino poachers.
The Defence Minister and SANDF lieutenant Jacques Nel were ordered to pay damages to game ranger Andrew Desmet, pictured, by Judge Mabel Jansen in the North Gauteng High Court. Desmet was shot in the buttocks near the Letaba river in May 2013.
The bullet tracked through his hip, pelvis, abdomen and eventually lodged in his chest. The ranger was airlifted to a hospital in Mbombela, where he underwent emergency surgery to save his life.
He remained in the intensive care unit for five weeks, undergoing eight operations, including a hip replacement and skin grafts.
Desmet will have to undergo another hip replacement. Desmet had instituted a claim of more than R2.1 million, the amount he should receive will only be determined at a later stage.
Nel said in a statement they were on foot when Desmet spotted three poachers crossing the river, but he lost sight of the ranger, who was running ahead of him because it was dark.
He then fired two shots with his R4 rifle when he saw what he believed to be a poacher aiming a weapon at him, but immediately rushed to help Desmet when he realised he had hit a colleague.