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Thursday / 20 June 2024
HomeNewsPolitician on the hook for millions in damages caused by pothole-related crash

Politician on the hook for millions in damages caused by pothole-related crash

The North West Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Public Works and Roads, Gaoage Molapisi, has been found by the province’s high court to be liable for 100% of the damages incurred by a pothole-related accident that happened in 2018.

The Mahikeng High Court ruled that the MEC is liable for 100% of the damages “as may be proven or agreed,” including past and future medical expenses, past and future loss and earnings, and general damages, according to Moneyweb.

MEC on the hook

The victim who filed the case was travelling in their Ford Everest SUV in 2018 along the Sterkstroom gravel road between Klerksdorp and Ventersdorp when they hit a pothole, which caused them to lose control of the vehicle and collide with a tree.

The individual suffered bone fractures, bruising and injuries to his lungs, and soft tissue injuries as a consequence of the incident.

This led the victim to claim R8.6 million in damages from the MEC.

Following an agreement between the two parties, the court granted an order that set aside the question of merit and quantum, and it was therefore left for the court to decide on the issue of liability, but not how much the victim would be able to claim.

The victim argued that he was responsible for the accident as he had failed in his duty to perform routine road inspections and that potentially dangerous areas were not identified in a timely manner as a result.

In response, the defence claimed that the plaintiff’s negligence contributed to the accident by failing to observe the road and maintaining a safe speed, thereby failing to avoid the accident when they could have done so.

The judge overseeing the trial said the issue of liability would rely on the evidence of the witnesses, but the MEC opted not to call upon any witnesses.

The victim, on the other hand, provided photographic evidence and witnesses who testified that the road was in a state of disrepair, with no signs erected to warn road users about hazards or the speed limit.

Molapisi claimed that there were no potholes on the road, but the judge said that the evidence belies this contention and that the MEC offered no counter-evidence to support his claim.

The plaintiff’s evidence and findings from experts showed that the road had numerous potholes, there were no warning signs, and there were skid marks between the last pothole and where the car hit the tree.

The victim’s car was also considered to be in fairly good condition with new high-profile tyres, further ruling out negligence on their part.

Additionally, farmers in the area had complained about the state of the road and that there were no signs warning about the potholes, which are often obscured by the shade of large trees near the track.

All of this led to the judge reaching the conclusion that a link had been established between the pothole and the accident, and that the MEC was negligent in failing to maintain the road.

She also said that the MEC’s alternate plea that the potholes were present, but that it was the driver’s negligence was the sole cause of the accident, had no merit

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