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Employers be warned! Employ with caution.

The doctrine of Vicarious Liability means that the employer is held liable for the wrongful acts or omission of its employees.  The difficult issue which one needs to examine when dealing with these sorts of cases is to establish whether the wrongful act arose in the course of the employee’s duties.

Here is a real life scenario:

Stallion Security concluded a contract with Bidvest to provide access control services at Bidvest’s head office. Mr Khumalo (“Khumalo”) was employed as the site manager to conduct regular inspections of the other security guards who were on duty, which included after-hour visits to Bidvest’s premises.

In order to perform his duties at Bidvest’s head office, Khumalo was given an override key to gain access to the offices, which no other security guard had access to. Khumalo was also registered on Bidvest’s biometric system.

According to a statement Khumalo gave to the police, he stated that he was under pressure to pay back a loan to certain persons who had “started hurting” him. Knowing that Bidvest kept a petty cash box at its head office, on 3 November 2014, Khumalo arrived at the head office, waited for the staff to leave knowing that  Mr van Staden worked late, entered the building via an emergency door and using his override key, gained access to the office area. At gunpoint Khumalo demanded that Mr van Staden should open the safe. Mr van Staden informed Khumalo that he did not have keys to the safe but could transfer R 35 000 from his personal account to Khumalo’s account.

Khumalo ordered Mr van Staden to drive to a nearby shopping mall, however, before reaching the mall and on realising that van Staden could call the police, Khumalo shot and killed Mr van Staden.

Was this part of his normal duties and can the security company be held liable?

Let’s find out. Click here.