File photo: Independent Media
Pretoria - Professional athlete Zephania Mokoena, who was left paralysed when he was shot by an Ermelo farmer, will receive a fraction of the R7.8 million he had claimed for damages in a confidential settlement.

Mokoena dreamed of representing the country in athletics. But today he is wheelchair-bound after he was shot in the neck. His spinal cord was punctured, which paralysed him.

Mokoena, 40, instituted the damages claim against Mpumalanga farmer Gawie Volschenk in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria.

The trial was due to last at least two weeks, but the farmer opted to make a settlement offer. 

It was clearly stated in a lawyer’s letter, which formed part of the court papers, that the offer was made without admitting any liability. 

This was made to avoid further legal costs, as Volschenk could not afford it. The settlement agreement was confirmed by Judge Joseph Raulinga. 

Part of the order was that “the outcome of this case and the content of this order will be confidential and no party will contact the media in regard thereto”

It was further ordered that in the event of this being breached, the entire amount paid to Mokoena will be repayable to the farmer or it could even lead to further litigation.

Mokoena claimed Volschenk, of the farm Morgenster in the Ermelo district, shot him on purpose.

The farmer, on the other hand, said an angry mob, of which Mokoena was part, attacked him and his 14-year-old son. Volschenk said Mokoena only had himself to blame for being shot.

Mokoena, in papers before court, said he was visiting his parents on December 24, 2001. 

His version is that Volschenk and his son arrived at the houses of the workers and started to assault his parents with a hockey stick. 

He said he intervened, but was shot in the neck by Volschenk snr. 

He recalled dropping to the ground and having a “strange sensation” over his entire body.

He was taken to the Ermelo Hospital, before being transferred to Kalafong Hospital in Pretoria West a month later. 

He was told his spinal cord was damaged and he would never walk again. He developed bedsores within two weeks of being in hospital and still suffers from these.

Apart from being unable to use both his legs, Mokoena could also not use his chest muscles, and thus was unable to balance his upper body in his wheelchair.

Mokoena said he had a promising career as an athlete before the accident. He worked for a mine at the time, which sponsored his athletics career. He was doing extremely well and won several races. His goal was to eventually run for his country.

He now lives in a home for the handicapped near Badplaas, for which the state pays. Life there is difficult, Mokoena said, as there were only two carers for over 40 residents.

It was stated that he had fallen into a state of depression as his entire life revolved around his love for sport. 

His weak upper body and inability to balance himself in his wheelchair resulted in him being unable to even play wheelchair basketball.

Volschenk said he fired a shot in the direction of Mokoena in a bid to protect himself and his son. He said in court papers that a group of about 10 men tried to kill him and his son.

He said he and his son were repeatedly assaulted with sticks and pipes. He held the boy behind his back to protect him against the assaults.

Volschenk said fearing for their lives, he fired a warning shot in the ground, in front of Mokoena. He warned him verbally that he would shoot him if he did not back off. 

This did not deter Mokoena, he claimed, which resulted in the farmer shooting a second shot – this time in Mokoena’s direction.

Pretoria News