Midrand businessperson Sifiso Ndwandwe will have to compensate a neighbour whose double-storey thatched roof house burnt to the ground because of a fire that started on Ndwandwe’s property.
Ndwandwe’s neighbour, Mohammed Mehrez, and his wife, Trudie, instituted a damages claim of more than R330 000 against him for the contents of their double-storey home, which was destroyed in August 2012.
The couple alleged a fire started by Ndwandwe’s gardener to burn leaves spread to their property and destroyed their house.
But Ndwandwe insisted nothing was ever burnt on his property and that his gardener must have been on a frolic of his own if anything was burnt.
Judge Johan Louw yesterday ruled in the High Court in Pretoria that Ndwandwe, CEO of the Mineworkers Development Agency, was 80% liable for the damages. The amount will only be determined at a later stage.
Ndwandwe’s former gardener insisted he had not set the fire, but Louw said the man was an unsatisfactory witness and the evidence was overwhelming that he was the person responsible for starting the fire.
Louw found Ndwandwe was vicariously liable for his worker’s negligent actions, although his neighbours had contributed to the fire by not keeping their lawn as short as possible.