MS Zaandam. Picture: Cruiseweb
MS Zaandam. Picture: Cruiseweb

Dewfresh chief executive receives payout after fall on cruise ship

By Zelda Venter Time of article published Jan 5, 2021

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Pretoria - The chief executive of Dewfresh Ltd, Frik Grobler, has received €12 500 (about R224 000) in compensation after he fell in the cabin bathroom while on board a cruise liner.

Grobler and his wife Esmay were passengers on the MS Zaandam, a cruise ship owned and operated by the Holland America Line, when he suffered the nasty fall as the ship pitched.

The couple had been on a dream holiday to South America when it turned sour for the 74-year-old Grobler near the end of the trip.

Grobler’s attorney, Jean-Paul Rudd, a partner at Adams and Adams Attorneys, said Grobler and his wife shared a love for travelling and had on their bucket list (a plan) to visit Lake Titicaca – a freshwater lake in the Andes on the border of Bolivia and Peru, and visit Uruguay.

One way to do this was to travel by ship on a 16-day itinerary, commencing from Santiago, Chile, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Two days before the MS Zaandam was due to dock in Rio, tragedy struck for Grobler. While in the bath-shower, Grobler felt a sudden movement of the ship and grabbed a handrail.

Unfortunately the handrail dislodged from the wall, resulting in him falling out of the shower and striking his head on the floor, knocking him out for a few minutes.

Describing the events in a statement in a guest accident report in November 2018 when the incident occurred, Grobler said it had been a day at sea so they were relaxing in their luxury cabin and he decided to take a late morning shower.

He said he began washing his hair and took the shower head off its bracket on the wall to rinse it. He felt a sudden movement by the ship and he grabbed onto the handrail to maintain his balance.

In doing so he fell backwards, and at the same time the handrail came off the wall. He fell over the side of the bath with the handrail still in his hand, and hit his head on the floor.

His wife rushed to his aid and he was later taken to the ship’s hospital, where he was assisted by the ship’s doctor, a young woman from Pretoria.

After docking in Brazil, Grobler was taken to the Daher Hospital, recommended by the South African Embassy in that country.

At the hospital, Grobler received medical treatment and was sent for scans of his head and back to determine whether he would be fit enough to endure the long flight back to South Africa.

Rudd said following Grobler’s fall, the ship was inspected, and several handrails were removed due to extensive rust which had developed over the years, rendering them unsafe.

Upon Grobler’s arrival back in South Africa, he sought legal advice from Rudd, who advised that action would need to be instituted against the owners of the MS Zaandam.

As the ship sailed under the Dutch flag, Grobler was furthermore advised that Dutch law would apply.

Following a letter of demand issued by Rudd, settlement negotiations ensued between Grobler and the insurer for the luxury cruiser.

Rudd said this resulted in Grobler accepting €12 500 in compensation, and the matter not having to go to court.

Rudd said while the case has now been legally resolved, the after effects of Grobler’s severe fall have left their mark.

Grobler is the son of the founder of the well known Dewfresh company, which was established in 1973.

Pretoria News

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