A MOSSEL Bay fishing company has been ordered to pay a Port Elizabeth fisherman more than R2-million in damages after part of his foot was crushed in an accident at their factory.
The Judge-President of the Eastern Cape, Judge Themba Sangoni, ordered Viking Inshore Fishing to pay R2.5-million to Khayalethu Busakwe, 36, after he accidentally stepped on an exposed piece of machinery.
At the time of the incident, Busakwe, of Kwazakhele, was a crew member on the fishing vessel Nikita. Viking had their own fishing fleet, but also bought in hake from independent boats such as Nikita.
Viking operated an ice room on Quay 3 in the Mossel Bay Harbour, where it delivered ice to its own vessels and to the independent boats that delivered hake to it.
The ice room consisted of a refrigerated room capable of producing 25 tons of ice a day. The ice dropped into the refrigerated ice room through three holes in the ceiling.
Crew members of the vessels due to receive the ice were required to work in the ice room and to feed the ice with picks and shovels through a mechanised system onto their vessels moored alongside.
Busakwe said at the hearing he was using an ice-pick to break up the ice which had formed a solid layer.
He was also standing on an ice block that was about 20cm thick. While working in that position, the ice suddenly gave way beneath his right foot.
His foot passed through the ice and into a gap between the grid and the floor of the room. His right foot was caught in a steel spiral which was turning at the time and a part of his foot was crushed by the machine.
He said about half of his right foot had to be amputated after the incident. He was in hospital for six days.
Viking Inshore Fishing conceded they were responsible for Busakwe's damages.
He also received R16800 from the Compensation Commissioner following his injury and successfully applied for a disability grant.
Busakwe told the court it was never his intention to continue being a fisherman until retirement. He was trying to improve his education to get a better job and had already passed matric.
Judge Sangoni said he believed R1.7-million was enough to pay for Busakwe's prosthesis, for further operations and to have a vehicle converted for him.
He also ordered payment of R18000 in loss of past earnings, R451910 for loss of future earnings and R300000 for pain and suffering.