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Pretoria - The former head of the department of surgery at the Steve Biko Hospital, Professor Jan Becker, is to receive R200 000 in damages from the owners of a farm in Alldays in Limpopo, after claiming that he was shocked by an electrical current while showering in one of the bungalows on the farm.
Becker claimed R498 000 in the Pretoria High Court from the owners of the game farm, Hercules and Martha Myburgh.
He said he and his wife were guests on the farm on August 23, 2008, and they were staying in one of the bungalows.
Becker said as he took a shower that day, he suddenly received an electrical shock, followed by an immediate and intense pain in his back.
According to court papers he had to drag his left foot from the wet shower floor to avoid being killed.
It was said that his wife was also shocked as she believed her husband was close to being electrocuted by the current which was conducted through the hot water supply.
Becker was in such a state of shock that his wife was under the impression that he had developed cardiac problems.
He told a psychologist later that he tried to “walk off” his back pain on the farm, but on their way back to Pretoria, he had to lie down in the back of his vehicle. He consulted a specialist and his back was operated on a few days later.
He was the head of surgery at Steve Biko at the time of the incident, but he retired last year.
The court was told that at the time of the incident he worked 16 hours a day - something he could no longer do.
He had been involved at Medunsa this year, where he worked 20 hours a week.
According to a medical report, Becker still displays physical consequences of the incident in the form of lower back pain, neck spasms and headaches. He also gets flashbacks when he showers at places such as guest houses.
He told a psychologist that for two or three years after the incident he became extremely anxious when he took a shower. For instance, he ensured that the shower curtain was hanging outside the cubicle to enable him to exit easily if necessary.
He also developed a dislike for certain tastes, such as Rooibos tea.
Becker blamed the Myburghs for the accident, stating that as they were running a hunting lodge on the farm and allowed guests to stay overnight, they should have ensured that all areas on the farm, including the bungalows, were safe.
He also said they should have ensured that the facilities were properly built and maintained.
The Myburghs, in spite of agreeing to pay the R200 000, denied any wrongdoing. They admitted to running a game farm, but denied that there were bungalows. According to them there were only “structures” erected to house guests.
The couple maintained that all the structures on their farm were perfectly safe to be used by guests.
The damages awarded to Becker included his legal costs.