Court to decide if pothole caused accident

Pretoria - The High Court in Pretoria will have to rule if a pothole led to a crash between two cars on a tarred road in Mpumalanga.

A white Toyota Corolla and a black Cadillac collided on April 16, 2012, on the road between Lydenburg and Roossenekal, Netwerk24 reported.  

The MEC for public works, roads and transport in Mpumalanga denied in court documents that there had been a pothole in the road.

Noupoort pensioner Andreas Coetzee, 70, is claiming R840 000 in damages from the MEC’s department.

He had been driving the Toyota.

Stanford Macevele, 37, of Bronkhorstspruit, who was driving the Cadillac, is not a party in the case.

A day after the crash, he’d posted on Facebook that he was "OK" after the head-on collision, although doctors still had to confirm if everything was "medically OK".

"God is great and I saw His intervention yesterday. Let us worship and praise him," Macevele added in his post.

Coetzee says in his court documents that the road on which the accident happened was a public road, and the provincial department’s responsibility.

The department had a responsibility towards the public to make sure the road was safe by doing routine maintenance.

Routine inspections should be done "to determine areas of decline and determine potential danger".

Bad injuries

According to Coetzee, he’d swerved after seeing a pothole and crashed into the Cadillac.

He maintains the accident was caused by the department’s negligence because the surface of the road had been "allowed" to deteriorate to such an extent that it posed a potential danger.

The department also didn’t warn the public of the potential danger of potholes, Coetzee’s court documents claim.

Coetzee sustained a femoral head fracture (part of the hip) in his right leg, three broken ribs, and his left lung collapsed.

He had several lacerations to his face and he lost teeth as a result of a blow to the mouth, according to the claim details.  

The department acknowledged in its plea that the accident had happened, but denied any other claims surrounding it.

The department said it had happened because of Coetzee’s negligence. Coetzee had been speeding, hadn’t been alert and had ignored the department’s warning signs, it said.

The department is of the opinion that Coetzee could have avoided the accident.