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Court says neighbour must pay for damage to house caused by collapsed boundary wall

A neighbour claimed more than R1 million in damages from the resident whose wall collapsed and trapped her inside her home. Picture: File

A neighbour claimed more than R1 million in damages from the resident whose wall collapsed and trapped her inside her home. Picture: File

Published Mar 9, 2023


Pretoria - A boundary wall between two properties in Atteridgeville was the subject of a Gauteng High Court, Pretoria case, with a neighbour claiming more than R1 million in damages from the resident whose wall collapsed and trapped her inside her home.

Matlakala Ndhlovu blamed her neighbour, Matome Phoshoko, for the severe damage caused to her home and property.

She told Judge Norman Davis about her harrowing experience when the wall came crashing down in February 2017.

Along with it came loads of debris which gathered in front of her windows and doors.

Out of fear of what might happen if she opened her door, Ndhlovu phoned the emergency services who came to rescue her.

Apart from the damage done to her property, she did not suffer physical injuries.

She is blaming Phoshoko for the damage caused, as she said his wall was not structurally safe.

While he denied any wrongdoing or liability, the court did not deal with his defence on the merits of the matter, as his defence was struck out because he did not follow court rules by issuing the court with vital documents in time.

Ndhlovu, meanwhile, blamed her neighbour for what had happened, as she said that he had erected the wall without regard to its structural deficiencies, rendering it unsafe.

She said that she had, prior to the collapse, “on numerous occasions” requested him to tear down the wall as it remained unsafe.

According to Ndhlovu, it also encroached onto her property and had been built without the necessary foundations and not according to prescribed building standards.

She said Phoshoko had refused to do so.

The two stands are situated on the slope of a steep hill, with Phoshoko’s property occupying the higher ground.

Phoshoko accused Ndhlovu, in turn, of having inserted metal rods into the top of the wall, which resulted in water ingress weakening the wall. She was also accused of having refused draining holes to be made in the wall.

After heavy rains, the combination of these two factors caused the wall to collapse, he said.

Ndhlovu said her neighbour had disrupted the flow of rainwater next to the wall, which caused water to spill directly into her property and even into her carpeted house.

She said she had spoken to him about this on numerous occasions, but nothing was done about it.

On February 21, 2017 the seasonal rains proved too much for the boundary wall and it collapsed onto her house and into her property.

Ndhlovu said she awoke with the sounds and tremors likened to an earthquake.

She could not open her kitchen windows as they were blocked by debris. She was fearful for the structural integrity of her house and did not open the damaged doors.

Electrical wiring dislodged by the impact caused sparks and flames in various rooms and only subsided when emergency response teams and a disaster management unit called to the scene cut the power.

Damage was caused to her house as a result of the collapse of the wall in numerous listed aspects, ranging from doors, cupboards, walls and the roof to plumbing and electrical installations.

Movables such as furniture, Persian carpets, a huge TV set and various books and manuscripts inside the house were also damaged.

Ndhlovu estimated the damage to be R1 219 503.10, the amount she is claiming from her neighbour. Attempts by her at reaching a settlement with him were unsuccessful.

The court ordered that the neighbour was liable for the damages she could prove. The amount of damages payable will be decided at a later stage.

Pretoria News