An Ermelo farmer has agreed to compensate a former professional athlete who is paralysed after the farmer shot him in the neck more than a decade ago.
In terms of a settlement that was confirmed as a court order in the High Court in Pretoria this week, Mpumalanga farmer Gawie Volschenk agreed to compensate former athlete Zephaniah Mokoena, but only for a fraction of the R7.8 million Mokoena initially claimed from him.
The court recorded the content of the order was confidential and that none of the parties would contact the media about it.
Mokoena, now in his 40s, was a professional athlete for the Ermelo Marathon Club and sponsored by a mine when Volschenk shot him in the neck in December 2001, puncturing his spinal cord and paralysing him.
Mokoena told a doctor he was visiting his parents on Volschenk’s farm and was shot in the neck when he tried to intervene while Volschenk was assaulting his mother and father with a hockey stick.
He claimed Volschenk was trying to get rid of labourers already living on the farm when he bought it.
Volschenk, however, said in court papers Mokoena was part of a group of about 10 persons who assaulted and attempted to murder him and his son, who was 14 years old at the time, and that he had fired a shot in Mokoena’s direction in self-defence.
He claimed he and his son were repeatedly assaulted with sticks and pipes and that he had first fired a warning shot into the ground in front of Mokoena before firing in his direction because the attackers did not stop.
Mokoena claimed Volschenk had wrongfully and intentionally shot him, but Volschenk pleaded that Mokoena had voluntarily assumed the risk that he might be shot by persisting with the attack after the warning shot.
Volschenk initially denied any liability to compensate Mokoena for the damages he suffered as a result of the incident.
Mokoena was doing well as an athlete and had dreams of representing his country, but is now confined to a wheelchair, has to wear a catheter and nappies and depends on others for his most basic needs.
The incident left him with constant bedsores, severe urological problems and severe depression and anxiety.
He survives on a government grant and lives in a care centre in Badplaas, while his mother and sister still live on Volschenk’s farm.