Car was overtaking before crash - Jub Jub witness
Johannesburg - A witness to the Molemo "Jub Jub" Maarohanye car accident testified he did not see the Mini Coopers driving parallel to each other, as though they were racing, the Protea Magistrate's Court heard on Tuesday.
Defence witness Benjamin Maseko told the court he was ferrying 12 schoolchildren to their homes in the Protea area, in Soweto, in a minibus when he crashed into a curb to avoid a speeding blue Mini Cooper.
He said the oncoming Mini Cooper was trying to overtake a grey Mini Cooper at high speed along Mdlalose Drive, which he told the court was now referred to by the community as "Jub Jub Avenue".
Maarohanye and co-accused Themba Tshabalala allegedly ploughed into another group of schoolchildren on March 8 2010 while racing their Mini Coopers along the route linking Protea North and Protea Glen.
Four of the children were killed and two others were severely injured.
Maarohanye and Tshabalala face charges of murder, attempted murder, and reckless or negligent driving while under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
Maseko said he had just dropped off some of the children he was transporting in Protea North when he also came across metro police officers manning a roadblock on Mdlalose Drive.
"They stopped me and asked for my licence and then let me pass. I continued down the road towards Protea Glen.
"As I was approaching, there was a grey Mini Cooper driving in the opposite direction," Maseko said.
He told the court that the road had two lanes and that the grey Mini Cooper was driving in its designated lane.
"When it was about to pass me, another [blue] Mini Cooper approached," Maseko said, using his hands to demonstrate the encounter.
Asked by Maarohanye's attorney Ike Motloung to clearly demonstrate what had happened, Maseko told the court how the blue Mini Cooper recklessly overtook the grey one and disrupted oncoming traffic.
"I swerved to the far left and collided with a curb. I wasn't even aware there were two Mini Coopers when the other one appeared suddenly from behind the grey one [to overtake it]," he said.
"I can't determine the speed [the blue Mini Cooper was travelling at], but it was fast. Had I seen it timeously I would have been able to avoid it," Maseko said.
Mini flew over the other one
He said none of the children he was transporting suffered physical injuries, but they were left traumatised by the ordeal.
He said his minibus's left front wheel was damaged from hitting a curb.
Maseko said that shortly after he crashed, there was a lot of dust as he struggled to control the vehicle and keep it on the road.
In the dust, he saw the blue Mini Cooper "fly" over the grey one.
"The grey Mini Cooper was pushed into trees [on the side of the road] while the blue Mini Cooper flew over it and went into further trees.
"I saw the car fly. I then turned to give some help as it is done when there is an accident... I didn't think I would find children hit," Maseko said.
He said the metro police officers who had stopped him earlier arrived on scene shortly after the accident and cordoned off the area.
Paramedics put the injured people from the Mini Coopers in an ambulance.
"I noticed one of them was injured and bleeding from the head. I didn't know who it was, but the person was light in complexion," Maseko said.
He said he did not see the Mini Coopers driving parallel to each other, as though they were racing, as previous State witnesses have testified.
He heard of the allegation that the Mini Coopers were racing only about 30 minutes after the accident.
Maseko said he was not aware which of the accused was driving which Mini Cooper at the time of the crash, but remembered only the colour of the cars.
Previous witnesses testified that Maarohanye was driving the grey Mini Cooper and that the blue one was driven by Tshabalala.
The trial was postponed to Wednesday to allow Maseko to pick up his load of schoolchildren, who included Grade R pupils, on time.
He is expected to be cross-examined when he takes the stand again on Wednesday morning.