RAF damages claim fails as overtaking manoeuvre comes under scrutiny
Cape Town - A driver’s overtaking manoeuvre came under scrutiny in the Eastern Cape High Court, where his damages claim failed so dismally, that it was found devoid of merit.
The driver had sought R3.5 million against the Road Accident Fund (RAF), where he had to prove on a balance of probabilities that the driver in an oncoming lane was negligent.
During court proceedings, the driver who was not named in the judgment, said he had a passenger in his vehicle as he was driving from Phakade junction to Bizana in June 2016.
He said he was following a huge horse-and-trailer truck, and overtook it on the right side – via the oncoming lane.
Having overtaken the truck, he was back on the correct side of the road but suddenly he saw a Toyota Quantum approaching and being followed by a motor vehicle driven by a Mr Timoti.
To avoid a head-on-collision with the Quantum he swerved back to the incorrect lane and a collision occurred between his vehicle and that of Mr Timoti.
But in giving evidence that was contradictory in material respects, Mr Timoti said he was driving in the opposite direction to that of the plaintiff.
He testified that long before they reached the site of the collision, they had passed a Toyota Quantum which was parked on the side of the road.
He said as they were approaching a curve they saw the horse-and-trailer truck driven on the correct side of the road.
It was followed by three vehicles, including the plaintiff’s.
Just as they were about to pass the truck, the plaintiff’s vehicle emerged from its lane and overtook the truck.
Mr Timoti said he applied the brakes and swerved to the extreme left-hand side of the road to avoid a head-on collision.
As he was about to exit the road on his correct side the collision occurred.
The RAF’s legal representative argued that the plaintiff failed to tell what became of the Toyota Quantum that was in front of Mr Timoti’s vehicle; what became of the passenger that was with him in his vehicle; and why the plaintiff’s evidence in chief was internally contradictory.
High Court Deputy Judge President Zamani Nhlangulela said in his judgment that he does not believe that the circumstances under which the accident took place could have given the plaintiff the luxury of time to make the double swerves that he spoke about when he testified.
“It does not come as a surprise to me that the existence of a third vehicle that allegedly was travelling in front of that of Mr Timoti, is a mere fiction … The plaintiff’s contradictions that emerged when he was cross-examined render his evidence totally unreliable.
“To illustrate the point, the plaintiff conceded that he, not Mr Timoti, caused the collision in that the collision took place on his incorrect side of the road.
“This concession cancelled the earlier version that a collision took place after the truck had been successfully overtaken and during the manoeuvre that saw the plaintiff’s vehicle swerving back to the incorrect lane and again swerving towards the correct lane.
“Consequently, the plaintiff’s version of the events is not correct.”
The RAF did not respond to requests for comment on the judgment.