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Difficult to quantify damages in Mrwetyana family lawsuit against Sapo - expert

Two weeks ago, Uyinene Mrwetyana's family instituted a civil claim against the Post Office for her murder.

FILE: Flowers, posters and messages outside the post office in Claremont where Uyinene Mrwetyana was murdered. Picture: Lizell Persens/EWN

CAPE TOWN - A legal expert said that it was hard to quantify damages in cases like the Post Office lawsuit by the family of murdered student Uyinene Mrwetyana.

The 19-year-old was raped and murdered by a Post Office teller inside the Clareinch Post Office last year.

Two weeks ago, her family instituted a civil claim against the Post Office.

Director at law firm Werksmans, Pierre Burger, believed it was likely that vicarious liability would be upheld by the court.

Burger, who's an expert in the field, said that Uyinene Mrwetyana was at the Post Office for assistance.

"I think in a case like this it would be found that there is a sufficiently close link between the employment and the wrongdoing and the State would be able to be held liable, and by the State, I mean the Post Office."

He said that emotional shock would be a substantial component of the claim.

"There's no precise way of quantifying the amount of those damages, so it's very much an amount which the court considers just and equitable in the circumstances. Damages in circumstances like this in South African courts are not typically very high."

Burger said that when the matter reached trial, the family could rely on testimony from mental health practitioners.