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Accident victim awarded R1 million compensation

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Staff Reporter

A 36-year-old Free State man who survived a road accident that left him with serious injuries has been awarded over R1-million in damages after he sued the Road Accident Fund (RAF) for compensation.

The man, Pakiso Kaizer Kareli, was a passenger in a motor vehicle that overturned after its driver lost control on the gravel road between Dewetsdorp and Wasbank farm.

He sustained head, spine and knee injuries as well as disfigurement in the accident.

Kareli, who was employed as a skinner at an abattoir in the province, then lodged a claim for damages.

The RAF – which provides compulsory cover to​ all user​​s of South African roads, against injuries sustained or death arising f​r​om accidents involving motor vehicles within the borders of the country – conceded the merits of the claim.

The fund however refused to compensate him for past and future loss of income as a result of the injuries sustained in the accident.

This prompted Kareli to approach the Free State High Court seeking an order to compel the RAF to honour his claim in its entirety.

No one appeared for the RAF and the plaintiff requested the court to proceed with default judgment.

The defendant, however, handed in an e-mail to the plaintiff which the court accepted as an exhibit.

In the e-mail, the RAF was informing Kareli that it had accepted general damages in the amount of R350 000 and that it had also made an undertaking with regards to future hospital and medical expenses.

The fund refused the accident victim’s claim for past and future loss of income of R508 111.50.

The court was furnished with expert reports which confirmed the extent of Kareli’s injuries.

Dr Oelofse opined: “. . . from an orthopaedic perspective, I believe that the injuries had an impact on the patient’s amenities of life, productivity and working ability.

“He returned to his pre-accident employment but struggles with the physical tasks required of him due to the impairments caused by the injuries.

“The injuries the patient sustained in the accident make him an unfair competitor in the open labour market.”

Kareli, who dropped out of school when he was in Grade 7, was at the time of the accident employed as a skinner at a local abattoir and his duties required him to stand and walk for prolonged periods of time, lifting and carrying heavy carcases, working in cold environments, as well as working with sharp knives.

According to court papers, he had told industrial psychologist Ben Moodie that he suffered lower back pain since the accident and that due to this he was unable to sit and stand for prolonged periods, as well as lift carry heavy items.

“When considering Mr Kareli’s pre-accident earning potential it can be concluded that based on his limited level of education as well as noting the nature of the work which he had carried out in his career life prior to the accident, it can be concluded that he would have always remained reliant on work of a manual/physical nature in order to earn an income,”Moodie noted in his report.

“Though Mr Kareli had already reached his career ceiling at the time of the accident, based on the collateral information obtained from his employer, it can be concluded that he would been earning R5 000 per month in today’s terms.”

After taking the expert opinions into consideration, Judge Boonzaaier concluded the defendant was liable to pay 100 percent of the plaintiff’s damages.

In a judgment delivered on Friday, the RAF was ordered to pay Kareli the sum of R717 393 in respect of loss of earning capacity.

This is on top of R350 000 in respect of general damages, making it a total of R1 067 393 that the defendant has been compelled by the court to pay into the plaintiff’s attorneys’ trust account.

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Centlec warns cable theft masterminds

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STOLEN . . . Part of the copper cable recovered by the police

Power distribution company Centlec has issued a stern warning to people believed to be hired by unknown individuals or syndicates to steal copper cables from the power lines saying it will not allow them to destroy such key infrastructure and put the country’s economy at risk.

“This is war and we will fight it tooth and nail,” said Centlec in a statement.

“We want to send a strong message to the criminals and their handlers that we will not rest until they are behind bars,” added the company, which distributes electricity to Mangaung and surrounding municipalities.

It said it is aware that most of the criminals are just fronts who are sent by kingpins who then process the copper before selling it.

Centlec warned the kingpins that they would soon face the full might of the law.

“Some of the fronts happen to be vulnerable foreign nationals who are being used to steal our cables by their handlers,” said the company.

A joint operation by Centlec and the police in recent weeks has led to several arrests and the recovery of hundreds of kilogrammes of copper cable destined for scrapyards.

In the latest three incidents, a man was arrested in Botshabelo after being found in possession of copper cable believed to have been stolen.

Several people were also arrested following inspections at two scrapyards in Botshabelo where large amounts of copper were found.

At a scrapyard in Bloemfontein, a man was issued with a fine after he was found with copper weighing 150kg which he failed to account for.

Investigations are still underway to ascertain the real owner of the scrapyard for possible arrest.

“We are worried that many of these scrapyards are becoming a haven for criminals and promoting criminality,” said Centlec chief executive officer Malefane Sekoboto. – Staff Reporter

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Jilted lover up for double murder

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A 30-year-old man will appear in the Viljoenskroon Magistrates Court this Wednesday facing two charges of murder.

Fezile Dabi district police spokesperson Captain Malebo Khosana said the man was arrested for the double murder after he went to his ex-girlfriend’s house at about 4am on Saturday.

“He suspected that the ex-girlfriend was sleeping with the current boyfriend,” said Malebo in a statement.

“Upon . . . arrival at the ex-girlfriend’s home, he stabbed her to death and hit her son with a hammer on the head,” added the police spokesperson.

The suspect then fled the scene.

He is said to have told the police that thought the little boy was the woman’s current boyfriend.

Paramedics were called to the scene and declared both the 34-year-old mother and her 14-year-old son dead on the scene.

The suspect was later arrested after police were tipped of his whereabouts by community members.

The actual motive for the attack is still being investigated. – Staff Reporter

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Killer of businessman Helepi jailed for life

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SLAIN BUSINESSMAN . . . Tavern owner and former footballer Lejoni Alfred Helepi was attacked and fatally shot after taking a shower in his house in Phahameng, Bloemfontein

The man accused of killing Bloemfontein businessman and former Moroka Swallows FC player Lejoni Alfred Helepi in March 2016 has been sentenced to life imprisonment by the Free State High Court after being extradited from Lesotho.

Ntsane Togowe, 42, was given an additional 15 years by Judge Pitso Molitsoane on Monday after he was convicted of murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances.

Helepi was killed in his bathroom on March 29, 2016 in the robbery which included four other accused persons.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said the slain businessman was attacked and fatally shot after taking a shower in his house in Phahameng, Bloemfontein, where he operated a tavern.

The accused took about R40 000 and fled the scene using Helepi’s vehicle.

The vehicle was later found abandoned in Phelindaba.

The high-profile case suffered a major setback in November 2016 when the Bloemfontein Regional Court struck it off the roll after the state failed to secure a trial date at the High Court and finalise investigations “within a reasonable period”.

Togowe and his co-accused, namely Baninzi Gxama Dira Moreenyane, Ntabiseng Clementinah Lempe and Maseboko Alice Majake, had spent about nine months in custody.

Their lawyer, Saintin Seitheisho, successfully argued against further remand saying the state had been given adequate time to finalise their investigations and set a trial date.

The matter was stood down for several hours to allow the state to come back with information on when the case could proceed, but it failed to do so, leaving the presiding officer with no choice but to strike the matter off the court roll and proceed by way of summons.

That decision inadvertently allowed some of the accused to disappear and the police could not find them when the case was supposed resume.

“Togowe handed himself over to the police in 2018, after widespread reports that he was wanted for the murder of Helepi and he was released on bail,” said NPA regional spokesperson Phaladi Shuping.

Togowe, who is believed to have pulled the trigger on the fateful day, eventually stood trial alone after he was granted bail.

But in October 2018, he mysteriously disappeared from the High Court after the judge briefly adjourned the matter to allow him to deliver judgment in the afternoon.

A warrant was immediately issued for his arrest.

“He allegedly escaped to Lesotho without a passport as it was handed to the investigating officer as part of his bail conditions. He was arrested for robbery in Lesotho on July 27, 2019 and the Hawks, upon knowing his whereabouts, started the process of extraditing him to South Africa. This was successfully done on 8 December 2021,” said Shuping.

In aggravation, state prosecutor Lucky Bontes requested the court to impose harsh punishment on the accused because he failed to show any remorse as he denied being involved in the murder and robbery of the deceased even after his conviction.

“The deceased was killed in the comfort of his own home, after taking a shower and one of the witnesses had to cover his body with a blanket,” said Bontes.

“It was obvious that he was not carrying a weapon but they shot him twice and there was no reason to kill him because they could have just taken whatever they wanted . . .”

Gxama was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment in June 2019.

The other three suspects, Moreenyane, Lempe and Majake are still at large.

Police made their first break-through in the matter just a day after the incident when Majake admitted to having planned the robbery with the other four.

Following the arrest of Majake and Lempe, the two women — both employed by Helepi at the time — then assisted the police to find the three men.

Togowe and Gxama are said to have stormed Helepi’s Tavern and demanded cash.

In a well-orchestrated move, the two are said to have held Majake and Lempe hostage in the tavern, yet they part of the robbery scheme.

They went on to demand keys to the safe.

At that point, the court heard, Togowe allegedly went to the bathroom in the house where Helepi was taking a shower and shot him in the upper body.

He collapsed and died on the spot.

The pair then took the cash, Helepi’s gun, three cellphones, house keys and several sets of car keys before fleeing the scene in a bakkie which belonged to the businessman.

They later abandoned it.

Free State Director of Public Prosecutions Advocate Navilla Somaru has commended Lesotho police, the Hawks and the prosecutor for their commitment in ensuring that Togowe was brought to book for the murder of Helepi. – Staff Reporter

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