Salie v Western Province Athletics

In resolving a claim by a spectator against an athlete involving a collision during a race the high court decided that knowing that a race was underway it could reasonably have been anticipated that the spectator would keep a ‘proper lookout and would not simply disregard her own safety as well as that of the race participants, by stepping into the path some had just travelled in the middle of the pavement and where others would no doubt shortly follow suit’.


Athlete spectator collision and decision means that spectators must keep looking out for the athletes who are likely to be approaching at speed and cannot take avoiding action.


(WCC 7599/2015) [2021] ZAWCHC 52 [2021] JOL 49936 (HC) (19 March 2021)


Refused to grant relief with appropriate orders as to costs, including third parties.


JI Cloete J.

Heard: 1, 2, 7 and 8 December 2020; supplementary notes delivered 19 January 2021, 22 January 2021 and 2 February 2021
Delivered electronically: 19 March 2021


‘[65] The evidence also established that, even had WPA equipped the marshal concerned with a whistle it is unlikely that, by using it to sound a warning when Kalmer approached, the incident would not have occurred.

Kalmer was running her race as she was entitled to do; it could not have been reasonably expected of her to foresee that the plaintiff would ignore the probability of another participant such as her approaching at speed, and nonetheless move into the ‘danger zone’ of which she must already have been aware; and in any event Kalmer did attempt avoiding action when confronted with the obstacle moving into her designated path of travel in the form of the plaintiff by shouting out the word ‘watch’.

[66] I am therefore compelled to the conclusion that neither defendant would have foreseen the reasonable possibility that a failure to sound an earlier warning to the plaintiff would cause her injury. This being so, it was not incumbent on either defendant to take steps other than those which they did to guard against such an occurrence in the particular circumstances of the matter.”

Quotations from judgment

Note: Footnotes omitted and emphasis added


Court summary