Lizet du Preez and her mother, Elsabe, at the Western Cape High Court

Fatima Schroeder


A former gold medal-winning disabled athlete is suing the owner of a Strand holiday house for R5.2m after she fell down stairs on the property six years ago, becoming brain damaged.

Runner Lizet du Preez, 39, of Barberton in Mpumalanga, wore her medals when she attended pro-ceedings at the Western Cape High Court yesterday.

Her father, Cas du Preez, said she she won several medals over a number of years. At the time, she suffered from hemiplegia and was paralysed on the right side of her body.

He said she was arguing that the fall had worsened her condition to the degree that she could not run anymore.

She is suing the owner of the house, Marianne Pauw.

In papers before the court, it emerged that the incident took place when she visited tenants Christmas Eve of 2005.

The set of stairs leads to the entrance of the house, which is higher than street level. Du Preez fell down the side of the stairs.

She alleges in her papers that Pauw was negligent for failing to ensure that visitors were not injured and that there was sufficient lighting.

In responding papers, however, Pauw denied that she was negligent and said the stairs complied with building regulations and “requirements of force”.

She said she complied with her legal duty to take reasonable care to prevent injury to visitors.

And her letting agent had warned the tenant that the stairs could pose a problem for elderly or handicapped people.

Since Du Preez was disabled, she needed assistance. In addition, Pauw added that she had offered to fix the light at the front door but that the tenant said she would do it herself.

She submitted that the accident was therefore the result of the tenant’s negligence as well as that of Du Preez’s parents, for failing to supervise her when she used the stairs.

In addition, she said Du Preez herself had been negligent because she had been aware of the conditions surrounding the stairs and had not asked for assistance.

She said she was under no legal obligation to pay the amount claimed to Du Preez.

Judge Robert Henney has reserved judgment.

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