Bid for damages after live wire shock turned down

Bid for damages after live wire shock turned down. Picture: File

Bid for damages after live wire shock turned down. Picture: File

Published Mar 19, 2024


A pedestrian, who claimed that he suffered injuries after he was shocked by live wires that the Polokwane municipality had left uncovered and exposed at traffic lights after its workers did maintenance work, has lost his legal bid to obtain damages.

Thobela Thabisana turned to the High Court sitting in Polokwane. He claimed that on October 18, 2018 he was walking in the Polokwane CBD when he was electrocuted, or electrically shocked, by the uncovered live wires and was injured.

He blamed the municipality for its negligence in that it had failed to warn the public about the danger of the traffic lights and live wires around it.

The municipality denied that Thabisana or any other person was electrocuted on the day in question. It said that if he was indeed hurt, it was due to his own negligence.

It said when it conducts maintenance works on street lights, the officials or technicians put in place reasonable measures to caution members of the public about the maintenance taking place.

Thabisane, who was 15 at the time, testified that he was walking from school to the taxi rank. On arrival at the traffic lights on the corner of Church and Jorrison streets in Polokwane, he stopped at the traffic light was red.

While he was standing waiting for the traffic light to turn green, he said, he touched one of the poles of the traffic light. When he touched it, he got electrocuted and fell down.

According to him, he could not walk, and was assisted by his fellow schoolmates who carried him to the taxi rank.

On arrival at his homestead, his parents took him to the hospital. He had sustained head and chest injuries as a result of the electrocution.

He was admitted to hospital for six days. His parents had reported the incident to the municipality.

Upon questioning, he could not give the names of his school friends who assisted him, other than to say that they were wearing the same school uniform as his.

He stated that there were live wires which were lying around the pole of the traffic light.

Thabisana was adamant that he did not touch the wires. According to him, the wires looked like they were connected to the traffic light, and some of them were cut.

He further told the court a hole was dug next to the traffic light and the wires were not covered.

An installation inspector at the municipality testified that he went to the scene but he found no maintenance was taking place there.

Judge Maake Kganyago commented that the plaintiff’s version is that of a single witness. The then teenager’s version was that when he touched the pole and got electrocuted, his school friends were next to him.

“If indeed the plaintiff was taken home by his schoolmates, logic will tell that the plaintiff’s parents would have wanted to know the names of those people who have assisted their child, and where they came from,” the judge said.

It was not explained why none of the plaintiff’s school mates were called as a witness, he said.

“The only inference to be drawn is that had they been called they were going to contradict the plaintiff’s version, or the possibility is that they don’t exist,” Judge Kganyago said.

He also questioned that if Thabisana was injured in the busy CBD, why did no one call an ambulance.

“Except for the evidence of the plaintiff, there is no other evidence to corroborate his evidence.”

The judge said his evidence was simply not credible.

“It is doubtful whether the alleged incident happened at those traffic lights since the defendant’s witness also testified that he could not find any traces of maintenance taking place at those traffic lights,” the judge said in turning down the claim.

Pretoria News

[email protected]