Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa
MEDIA SUMMARY – JUDGMENT DELIVERED IN SUPREME
COURT OF APPEAL
From: The Registrar, Supreme Court of Appeal
Date 13 May 2005
Please note that the media summary is intended for the benefit of the
media and does not form part of the judgment of the Supreme Court of
LUCKY ARTHUR NDLOVU V SANTAM LIMITED
 The Supreme Court of Appeal today upheld an appeal by Mr
Lucky Arthur Ndlovu against the decision of the Johannesburg High
Court which held that he had instituted action in the wrong court
following the repudiation of his insurance claim. The SCA’s decision
decides an important point of procedure, in holding that where a lower
court’s jurisdiction is challenged the resulting decision is appealable. The
SCA’s decision also holds that a household insurance policy holder will
normally be able to sue in the magistrate’s court district where the
contract was concluded.
 On 17 October 1997 Mr Ndlovu’s house in Witpoortjie,
Roodepoort was broken into and his household goods worth R101,800
were stolen. At the time of the theft and break-in he had a policy of
insurance with Santam Limited (Santam) in terms of which his goods
were covered against theft. When he claimed under the policy Santam
refused to pay. He then sued in the Roodepoort Magistrate’s court,
claiming R100 000 by way of compensation. Santam Ltd objected to the
jurisdiction of the Roodepoort magistrate’s court, contending that he
should have sued in Krugersdorp, where Santam had repudiated liability.
The magistrate rejected this contention and found that Mr Ndlovu had
correctly instituted action in Roodepoort, where the contract had been
concluded and where the break-in and theft had occurred.
 Santam appealed successfully to the Johannesburg High Court
which held that Mr Ndlovu should have sued in Krugersdorp where,
according to the court, the cause of action arose. The court (per Masipa
and Schwartzman JJ) agreed with Santam that Mr Ndlovu’s claim was
based on the insurance company’s repudiation of liability.
 The Supreme Court of Appeal (Mthiyane JA delivered the
judgment of the court, with Zulman JA, Cameron JA, Lewis JA and
Comrie AJA concurring) agreed with the Johannesburg High Court that
the magistrate’s order dismissing a special plea to jurisdiction was
appealable but took a different view as to the main issues in the appeal.
The Supreme Court of Appeal held that the magistrate, Ms Pienaar, was
correct in her ruling that Mr Ndlovu had instituted action in a proper
forum, that is the Roodepoort magistrate’s court.