Employee sues municipality after suffering severe cable burns

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An OR Tambo municipal employee is suing King Sabata Dalindyebo municipality for millions after he was severely burnt by exposed electricity cables at work.
Thumekile Phalamahashe, 34, a general worker at the district municipality, was doing some work in the Mthatha suburb of Vulindlela Heights on May 29 2013.
“While cleaning the surroundings, electricity wires exploded and ignited and burnt [Phalamahashe]. Certain portions of the electricity wires were protruding on the surface because the electricity box was uncovered,” say court papers filed in the Mthatha high court.
“Phalamahashe suffered permanent severe burns on the entire upper body, face, both arms and on his back. The burns also caused permanent disfigurement of the left hand-side pinkie [finger]. He can no longer lift his right arm and has had skin grafting performed on his thighs.”
His day-to-day duties are constrained because his arms are now so weak he can no longer lift heavy objects.
Phalamahashe is also claiming damages for psychological trauma, depression and permanent agony. He says KSD knew the uncovered electricity wires were a source of danger.
“They negligently left the wires uncovered, unsafe and dangerous. They even failed to put up warning signs.”
KSD, contesting the claim, has denied it was negligent in causing Phalamahashe’s burns.
“The mini-substation was adequately and properly secured,” KSD said in its papers.
Deputy judge president Zamani Nhlangulela ruled that KSD was liable for Phalamahashe’s injuries.
Phalamahashe has claimed over R12m. The court will decide on the amount that should be awarded...

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