Judge praised for taxi driver's sentence
Cape Town - A Western Cape High Court judge's jailing of a taxi driver after a fatal accident should be an example to other judges, KwaZulu-Natal Transport MEC Willies Mchunu on Wednesday.
"I would like to commend Judge Robert Henney for this landmark and bold decision to sentence Jacob Humphreys," Mchunu said in a statement.
"Two cases of a similar nature are pending here in [KwaZulu-Natal). I hope that this decision will encourage other judges to take firm sentences if faced with cases of this nature."
The first case was against Themba Mazibuko, who was making a U-turn on the N3 highway, in Kokstad, in August when a bus crashed into his minibus taxi. Both vehicles rolled down a 10-metre embankment and landed in a river.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) charged him with the murders of the 10 people killed in the accident.
Taxi driver Khululeka Gwala, 22, faces murder and attempted murder charges after overtaking a truck in Copesville, near Pietermaritzburg, and colliding with a truck in September last year. Fifteen people died.
Mchunu's spokesman Kwanele Ncalane said charging drivers with murder instead of culpable homicide was appropriate in certain circumstances.
"It's unlike your normal accident, an unfortunate event. Here, if you analyse the circumstances, people are ignoring the rules of law and trying to do their own thing," he said.
"You find people losing their lives and someone must pay."
The NPA emphasised on Wednesday that not all drivers involved in car accidents would be charged with murder.
"Each case will be judged on its own merits," spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said.
Humphreys was convicted of murder following an accident on August 25 2010 at the Buttskop level crossing in Cape Town.
While taking children to school, he overtook a row of cars, ignored safety signals and proceeded over the tracks.
A train hit the taxi, killing 10 of the children. Four others were seriously injured.