Pretoria - A medically retired police officer who was shot in the stomach by criminals while he and his colleague were on their way to serve a summons won his legal bid on appeal to be declared 100% disabled to continue working.
He was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
A compensation tribunal earlier awarded him compensation for a permanent disability of 39%, which meant his monthly pension, in terms of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, was far less.
Trevor Ramanand turned to the high court in Pietermaritzburg to appeal against this award. He and his medical experts were of the opinion that he was totally disabled to work as a police officer.
He is a former warrant officer employed by the SAPS who had served for 25 years before what the court termed “a catastrophic event” befell him in January 2015.
While he was on his way to serve a protection order, he and his colleague were told someone was attempting to interfere with a parked car a short distance away. Ramanand and his colleague drove to the place. They saw two men near a car. It appeared as if they were changing the car’s number plate. Ramanand got out and walked towards the men, when one of them produced a firearm and fired two shots at him.
The first shot hit him in his right upper abdomen and the second shot “whistled past his ear” and hit the windscreen of the SAPS vehicle, shattering it. Ramanand said his life was saved by the fact that he was wearing a bulletproof vest, which absorbed the impact of the bullet that struck him.
After attempting, but failing, to arrest his attackers, he was taken to hospital and treated for shock and a soft tissue injury to his abdomen. After the treatment, he returned later that same day to his police station but was unable to function and was sent home.
He ultimately never regained his functionality at work and, upon his return, he only lasted one day as he could no longer endure his work environment.
The Compensation Commissioner subsequently published a compensation award – without providing reasons despite a request for such reasons – in which it was determined that Ramanand’s degree of permanent disablement was assessed at 39% . The result was that he received only a fraction of his salary as a monthly pension.
While no reasons were given for the 39% finding, the commissioner did note that “the applicant presented himself at the hearing as a well-groomed, able-bodied person without the necessity of any assistance whatsoever, be it physical or mental … ”
The high court, on appeal, said it appeared the tribunal relied upon his physical appearance for the 39% finding. “If this is true, it is a gross and severe misdirection. The condition of the appellant has nothing to do with how he looks or presents himself, and everything to do with how he functions in his chosen career.”
The court further questioned why the tribunal was set on not accepting the diagnosis of the experts, which found Ramanand 100% disabled, while only one member of the tribunal had a medical qualification.