Trophy hunter awarded almost R9m in damages after being accidentally blinded by municipal worker

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Joined: Nov 2016

A man won almost R9m in damages from the Thabazimbi municipality in Limpopo after he was blinded by a stone shot out from one of its worker’s grass cutters.

In 2011, Hendrik Badenhorst, a trophy hunter, was driving in Thabazimbi, Limpopo, when a flying stone penetrated his eye. The stone was shot out the back of a lawnmower driven by a municipality worker cutting grass. Badenhorst was unconscious for some time, before taken to hospital.

After he recovered somewhat, he tried continuing his hunting business, but this proved futile. In 2013, he had no income at all.

After years, Badenhorst sued the municipality. The municipality agreed it was responsible for his injury and agreed to pay him an initial R300,000.

Acting judge Thembile Joyini ruled the municipality was responsible and, as per expert evidence, determined it should pay Badenhorst R8.9m. 

Badenhorst said he was blind in one eye, unable to drive or perform simple tasks like tying his shoelaces and had no depth perception. He went for various treatments. Badenhorst had run a successful hunting business since about 2000, catering to international clients. After the incident, he could not manage the business and obtained “sympathetic” employment from a game trader but his injuries were so severe he was dismissed because he could not fulfil his duties in 2015. He tried again twice unsuccessfully.

Several experts, including doctors, testified for Badenhorst.

Joyini slammed the municipality for forcing some of the experts to be subjected to cross-examination when, in reality, the municipality’s own experts agreed with their findings. He ordered the municipality to pay all the costs regarding these witnesses.

Occupational therapists and industrial psychologists spoke about how Badenhorst, given his age and limited experience, could not get another job in another field. He also required domestic assistance.

The amounts relating to various expenses and loss of earnings were calculated by experts, including actuaries and accountants. They noted he earned R500,000 a year in net profits from his business since around 2000.

“No evidence,” said Joyini, “was produced by the defendant [the municipality] that contradicted the factual evidence of the plaintiff’s witnesses. The defendant’s assumptions regarding earning capacity were irrational and blatantly incorrect.”

Using the experts’ calculations, Joyini said the total amounted to R8.9m. He therefore awarded this to Badenhorst.

He also awarded legal costs, as the municipality had “caused an enormous waste of court time” during litigation in opposing witnesses, when it had no evidence to contradict them.



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