Cape Town - A judge has ruled on the merits of a technical issue that has been holding up a 2018 sexual assault case in which a woman who went for a job interview claims the interviewer locked the door and sexually assaulted her.
In the case, a woman known only as SB in court documents, had issued summons against the company, Storage Technology Services (STS) and Alfredo Witlouw, the man she alleged assaulted her, for payment of damages of over R1.1 million.
SB alleged that at the time of the assault, Witlouw, who conducted the interview, was employed by STS and was acting in the course and scope of his employment.
Witlouw, who was arrested in 2018 and appeared in court on a charge of sexual assault, has not defended the court action.
The judge had to rule on two objections or exceptions raised in the case by STS, which after delivery of its notice of intention to defend the case, in February, also delivered a “Notice to Remove Causes of Complaint and Notice of Exception” to the particulars of SB’s claim.
In the notice, STS raised eight complaints that the particulars of claim were vague and embarrassing, and two complaints that they failed to disclose a cause of action.
In March, SB served her notice of intention to amend her claim on STS, and the amount she was claiming rose to R2.3 million. STS did not object at the time, however in April it delivered a notice of exception to the amended particulars of claim.
There then followed an exchange between the lawyers for both sides causing an impasse in the case that the judge had to rule on.
In her ruling, Western Cape High Court Judge Judith Cloete set aside the May objection from STS as an irregular step, dismissed the April exception and ordered that STS pay the costs.
“If I do not invoke the court’s inherent power under Section 173 of the Constitution, the procedural muddle which has unfolded in this litigation thus far will in all probability be perpetuated.
“This cannot be in either party’s interest, and there can also be no question of prejudice to either if the notice of bar is set aside by this court,” said Judge Cloete.