Pretoria - A former employee at Shoprite Checkers, who suffered severe brain damage when she was flung from a forklift while packing goods on shelves, may sue the company.
The woman, identified only as Mrs Mkhwanazi, is mentally not able to pursue the claim due to the severity of her brain injuries.
The court earlier appointed a curator to handle the legal proceedings on her behalf.
Shoprite Checkers cited a technical defence, arguing that the court should not entertain the claim as it had prescribed.
A high court earlier turned down this defence and gave the curator the green light to proceed.
Unhappy with the finding, Shoprite turned to the Supreme Court of Appeal where it once again lost its case on the point of prescription.
On October 15, 2014, Mrs Mkhwanazi, then employed as a packer with Smollan Sales & Marketing, which renders merchandising services to retail stores, was at work at the Checkers Hyper in Meadowdale Shopping Mall, Edenvale.
While on duty, she climbed into a cage coupled to a forklift to pack merchandise on shelves. The cage was lifted by the forklift some 4m from the shop floor.
Unexpectedly, while hoisted, tragedy struck – the cage tilted and ejected Mrs Mkhwanazi, causing her to fall.
The cage dislodged from the forklift, fell and struck her on the head. She was severely injured and rendered permanently mentally incapacitated.
Due to her permanent mental incapacity, the curator instituted a damages claim – based on its alleged wrongful and negligent conduct – against Shoprite Holdings Limited in the Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg.
But Shoprite Holdings argued it was not the owner of the store at the time; Shoprite Checkers was.
Eleven months later, the curator withdrew the action against Shoprite Holdings and in 2018, instituted fresh proceedings against Shoprite Checkers. By this time, the prescribed time-frame had long lapsed.
But, the high court ordered that under the special circumstances, the curator should be given the legal nod to proceed with the claim.