Durban - The SANDF has finally admitted full responsibility for a helicopter crash - a breakthrough for a civilian passenger injured in the incident, who is suing for more than R2.2 million.
The minister of defence, through lawyers, this week conceded to being 100 percent negligent for the injuries suffered by Naeen Rahiman in an SANDF Agusta A109 helicopter that crashed in Ballito almost four years ago.
Rahiman, of Business Against Crime, is seeking R2 251 493 in damages from the minister.
In the Durban High Court, Deputy Judge President Achmat Jappie granted an order that the defendant - the minister - pay 100 percent of Rahiman’s proven - or agreed - damages.
Now the matter of quantum has been referred for case management before a judge in chambers for the defendant to settle the amount.
It is made up of past hospital and medical expenses, future medical expenses, prospective loss of earnings and general damages for “pain, suffering, disability, disfigurement and the loss and enjoyment of the amenities of life”.
Rahiman’s attorney, Ameeta Nundlall, said the reports on quantum from an orthopaedic surgeon, occupational therapist, industrial psychologist and an actuary have been filed and served.
Rahiman, 42, of Reservoir Hills, who suffered several fractures in the crash on December 15, 2010, declined to comment.
The defendant has also agreed to pay the litigation costs to date, Nundlall said.
The negligence aspect was settled before the parties battled it out in court on Wednesday. The day before, the defendant offered to settle on an 80/20 percent basis, Nundlall said. “The implication was that my client was 20 percent responsible, but that was ridiculous - he was a passenger,” she said.
The defendant eventually settled for 100 percent in favour of Rahiman.
Rahiman, who continues to work with Business Against Crime, was on the helicopter, which was carrying out a special reconnaissance before a crime-combating operation.
Also on board were the pilot, Captain Darryl Sloan, flight engineer Sergeant Neville Jeanes and Colonel JJ Geldenhuys.
Minutes after flying over Ballito, the helicopter crashed on a field at the nearby Laguna Seca Industrial Park.
While Sloan and Jeanes were taken to Alberlito Hospital, Ballito, with what was said to be fractured lower vertebrae, and Geldenhuys walked away unscathed, Rahiman was airlifted to Umhlanga Hospital with a fractured pelvis, a fracture to the spine and the left ankle and the left top of the shinbone and a laceration to the left index finger.
He was in intensive care, underwent surgery and was back in the operating theatre in 2012.
He suffered pain and discomfort with gradually diminishing effect to his entire body, particularly his back because of the fracture of the spine, as well as the left leg, left foot and ankle and lower torso and upper legs because of the fracture to his pelvis, as well as pain in his finger.