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Bus company SA Roadlink on Monday agreed to pay R1 million to settle a Durban passenger’s damages claim arising from an accident that claimed the lives of 12 people on Christmas Eve in 2006.
According to a draft order granted by Judge Achmat Jappie in the Pietermaritzburg High Court, it was agreed that Roadlink would pay the sum to Nkosiyabo Shezi, 28, of Folweni township, starting with a payment of R100 000 on or before July 7 this year.
Roadlink was also ordered to pay Shezi’s legal costs as well as the costs of expert witnesses that his defence team had secured
Shezi sued the bus company for R2 million in damages last year after he sustained traumatic brain injury, multiple compound fractures to his arms and legs, as well as multiple lacerations and a dislocated spine.
The claim was for pain, suffering and shock, as well as a loss of earnings due to his hospitalisation and the lasting effects of his injuries.
In September 2010, Roadlink settled a civil claim with another passenger, Wellington Manana, but the terms of that settlement, also made in the Pietermaritzburg High Court, were kept confidential.
However, while Roadlink agreed to pay an undisclosed sum of money to Manana, it did not make an admission of liability.
The settlement with Shezi carried the same condition.
The bus they were travelling in crashed at 4.40am on December 24, 2006 on the southbound lane of the N3, near the Liberty Midlands Mall off-ramp.
The had been travelling from Johannesburg to Durban.
Twelve people, including three children, died and 30 passengers were injured when the vehicle slammed into the supporting column of a bridge and overturned.
Manana, who suffered serious injuries in the accident, launched a claim for R1 215 480 in damages from SA Roadlink.
In July 2009, the driver of the bus, Charles Vaudin, was acquitted on 12 counts of culpable homicide in the local magistrate’s court after the State failed to prove that he had been negligent.
In his defence, Vaudin told the court that the right rear tyre of the bus had burst.
He said he had tried to bring the bus under control, but it veered into the emergency lane and crashed.
However, Manana and Shezi both claimed that the collision was caused by Vaudin’s negligent driving.
Among other things, they alleged that the driver had failed to keep a proper lookout, had been travelling at a speed which was excessive in the circumstances, had failed to apply the brakes, which could have prevented the collision, and had failed to take evasive action.
They also claimed that Vaudin had driven in circumstances in which he was tired and/or had been asleep.