Amputee, 29, takes city bus company to court
A 29-YEAR-OLD environmental biologist is suing the TransZambezi Express bus company and one of its drivers in the Cape High Court after she lost her leg as a result of a collision four years ago. Eight people were killed in the accident and several injured. But the company and driver are holding the Zimbabwean government responsible for the collision because the truck the bus crashed into belonged to the Zimbabwean military.
Hannah Flanders of the United Kingdom, who now lives in Zambia, was a passenger on a TransZambezi Express bus owned by the Bellville based company. The bus was traveling in Zimbabwe on route to Beit Bridge on April 12, 2001. About 300km south of Harare, it hit the stationary army truck. Flanders was severely injured in the accident and her left leg had to be amputated. She also injured her head, lost consciousness and sustained bruises over her body. After the accident, Flanders was taken to hospital in Masvingo, Zimbabwe, where she underwent emergency treatment including a blood transfusion.
She was then airlifted to Sunninghill Hospital in Johannesburg where she underwent surgery. She later contracted adult respiratory syndrome which affected the delivery of oxygen to her brain. During her treatment, her mother traveled from the UK to support her in hospital and in June that year she returned to her home country by air ambulance. She was admitted to hospital again until August 2001. After her discharge, she spent four months recovering at her parents’ home which had to be specially adapted for her needs. She returned to Zambia in November 2001, but has to go back to the UK hospital twice a year for check-ups and wears a prosthesis.
Flanders is claiming R650 000 plus an additional 626 000 pounds in damages from TransZambezi Express and the driver Tulani Winston Sibeni. She alleges that the accident was caused by the negligence of Sibeni, in that he failed to apply the brakes timeously, traveled at an excessive speed and did not exercise proper control over his vehicle.
But the bus company and Sibeni have denied negligence, saying that the Zimbabwean military, who were in charge of the truck, were negligent. They alleged in court papers that the truck caused an obstruction on the road and that the military should have taken steps to warn other road users of the obstruction.