ZACC 11
Hearing Date: 13 November 2018
Judgement Date:26 March 2019
Post Judgment Media Summary
The following explanatory note is provided to assist the media in reporting this case and is not binding on the Constitutional Court or any member of the Court.
On Tuesday, 26 March 2019 at 10h00 the Constitutional Court handed down judgment in an application for leave to appeal against a judgment of the High Court of South Africa, Limpopo Local Division, Thohoyandou (High Court). The matter concerned a question of whether the circumstances under which the applicant sustained his injuries fall within the ambit of sections 17 and 20 of the Road Accident Fund Act (RAF Act).
The applicant was injured on 3 June 2014 in Tshavhalovhedzi, Limpopo, when the front loading basket of a heavy equipment vehicle fell on his feet. The vehicle had been parked with no driver in it, and there was no one controlling the hydraulic system that operated the front loading basket. In considering whether the incident fell within section 20(2) of the RAF Act, the High Court considered whether the vehicle moved from where it was parked as a result of gravity, and found that it did not. The applicant was refused leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal, and subsequently appealed to the Constitutional Court on the ground that the High Court failed to interpret the sections in a way that promoted the Bill of Rights. The applicant contended that this alleged failure raised a constitutional issue.
In a unanimous judgment penned by Froneman J, the Constitutional Court found that it had no jurisdiction to entertain the matter because the appeal is one of fact only. On the applicant’s own evidence, it was the failure of the hydraulic system, and not any movement due to gravity, that caused the accident. The applicant’s evidence was also found to be contradictory and unreliable by the High Court. The matter therefore concerns factual findings, rather than any constitutional issue, and thus the Constitutional Court’s jurisdiction was not engaged. The application for leave to appeal was accordingly dismissed.
The Full judgment here.