Allow taxi man to drive, says lawyer

2011-09-21 12:45

The taxi driver who hit and dragged a young advocate in Lonehill, Joburg, last week should be allowed to drive if granted bail, his lawyer said today.

“He has no formal education ... If he cannot work as a taxi driver, he cannot work,” Oliver Moeti told the Randburg Magistrates Court.

Earlier, he said Matome Thamage (30) was the sole breadwinner for his family.

Moeti was arguing for Thamage to receive bail, before Magistrate Vincent Pienaar retired to consider the matter.

Thamage faces charges of attempted murder and reckless or negligent driving after his taxi hit and dragged Advocate Kim McCusker (25) for several hundred metres along Lonehill Boulevard last Tuesday.

Thamage appeared in court wearing the same dirty white T-shirt he wore during his appearance last week.

Moeti said Thamage only hit McCusker because his attention was focused on his assailant – McCusker’s fiancé Lourens Grobler (37).

“This was one of the most unfortunate incidents ... By no means has it been rigidly concluded that it was (Thamage’s) wilful intention (to hit McCusker),” Moeti said.

The State called investigating officer Inspector Naude Mathe to give evidence. He indicated Grobler attacked Thamage while the taxi was stationary, but idling, following a near collision between their respective vehicles.

On Monday, Grobler was granted R5 000 bail in the assault case Thamage had brought against him.

Mathe said McCusker got hooked underneath the taxi when Thamage drove off, and that she was dragged for approximately 500m. Metro police measured the exact distance, but Mathe did not know what it was.

He said Thamage’s address had been verified and it would be possible for him to visit a police station regularly, should he be granted bail. Mathe said Thamage should be granted bail, but not be allowed to drive.

Earlier, a passenger in the minibus taxi beneath which McCusker was dragged, said she was unaware of what was happening.

“I did not see if she fell to the side of the vehicle or if she went underneath,” Martha Morudu told the court.

Asked if she told Thamage there might be someone trapped beneath the taxi, she said: “I was confused, the driver was also confused.”

Morudu said Grobler was “screaming and fuming” when he approached the taxi driver’s window. She said Grobler smashed the driver’s window with his fist, then began hitting him.

“The taxi driver did not fight back.”

She said Grobler was attempting to strangle Thamage when he drove off. When he pulled off, the taxi mounted the curb before getting back on the road.

Morudu said that security guards told Thamage to stop, but as the traffic light was green, he went through the intersection before stopping.

Last Wednesday, Magistrate Vincent Pienaar said the attempted murder charge against Thamage classified the offence as schedule five. According to the Criminal Procedure Act, in a schedule five bail application the court has to satisfy itself that exceptional circumstances exist for an accused to get bail.

McCusker remained in the intensive care unit of Life Fourways hospital.

Her uncle Willem Hijbeek represented the family in court. He declined to comment on her condition. 

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