Thursday, August 6, 2020

Shot warder sues state for P4 million

Ookeditse Manyanda, a jail warden stationed at Francistown Central Prison has taken government to court demanding P4 million in compensation after his colleague shot him by accident four years ago. 

The case is before Francistown High Court Judge Tshegofatso Mogomotsi.

According to court papers, during the 19th of June 2016, the plaintiff (Manyanda) reported for work for the night shift at his post in the sentry. He was given a Smirnorf rifle which was to be under his custody while on duty at the sentry.

On the 20th of June at around 06:00hrs, the plaintiff prepared for shift change. He removed all the 20 rounds bullets from the rifle. He also checked and ensured that no bullets were left in the gun chamber.

After he had satisfied himself that he had diligently and properly cleared the gun, he handed it to the next warder, Montshwari Kgoreletso who was reporting for duty. He also handed the 20 rounds bullets he removed from the gun and gate keys as per their procedure. 

Kgoreletso was called by one Seargeant Keipeile who had descended from the tower, leaving the plaintiff collecting his belongings preparing to leave. Kgoreletso then proceeded to load the rifle with bullets and when he released the corking knob, a bullet was released from the gun shooting the plaintiff on the left knee. However during this incident, the plaintiff did not see Kgoreletso pull the trigger from the gun.

The bullet went in through one end through to the other end of the plaintiff’s knee. He was rushed to Nyangabwe Referral Hospital Accident and Emergency Department.

He was attended  by a nurse at around 08:40 hrs who filled the Accident and Emergency Department form noting that the plaintiff  had been “Accidentally shot by colleague with a gun in the knee this morning around 06:00 hrs” A doctor also attended him and confirmed that the plaintiff indeed suffered a gunshot wound.

Narrating his ordeal in the court papers as served by his lawyer Kesegofetse Molosiwa, the plaintiff claims that he tremendously suffered as he had to go through physical and emotional pain due to the shooting. He also claims that he suffered emotional and psychological trauma from the incident. The plaintiff was referred to a psychologist to assist him to cope with the trauma he experienced from the shooting.

“The plaintiff has suffered from hallucinations, anxiety, insomnia, depression, severe fear of being at work, paranoia and a loss in appetite,” reads the court paper.

The court documents further reveal that the plaintiff was exempted from carrying a fire arm at work as he continues to suffer emotional and psychological trauma from the incident. A certificate of fitness was conducted by a doctor who in his assessment found that the plaintiff cannot carry fire arms. He also cannot participate in recreational sports due to the pain and discomfort from the injury sustained.

Warder Kgoreletso was subsequently taken for a disciplinary hearing in which he pleaded guilty to contravening Section 46(1) of the Prisons Act. He also pleaded guilty to being negligent on the course and scope of his duties. The plaintiff through his lawyer feels that government is vicariously liable for the negligent actions of Kgoreletso.

The lawyer feels that his client is eligible to be awarded compensation under the Worker’s Compensation Act as he was injured in the workplace.

“Plaintiff’s injury was not in any way or form a result of his negligence or his contributory negligence; therefore he ought to be compensated. The plaintiff reported the incident to the Regional Labour Offices in Francistown within the prescribed time and was provided with the forms which his employers should complete. Plaintiff has done his part to have the compensation process completed, however his superiors have delayed the process,” reads part of the plaintiff’s court documents.

The incident, it is alleged, was not reported to the Botswana Police Services as it ought to be

The plaintiff seeks a Workers Compensation amounting to P500 000.00, payment for pain in the sum of P 1000 000.00, payment for nervous shock and or emotional distress in the sum of P 1 500 000.00, loss of amenities in the sum of P1 000 000.00 and the costs of suit at Attorney Client Scale.

However, the defendant represented by the Attorney General denies there was any fault with the rifle. The defendant claims the plaintiff was given forms of claim of compensation for the injury but the plaintiff failed to submit the same.

The defendant further argues that the plaintiff did not suffer damages to the some of P4 million as reflected in the particulars of claim adding that the action be dismissed with costs.

The case will go for status hearing on the 6th of July 2020.

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