No bail for Alberton trucker - State

2014-10-22 17:59
Scene of the Alberton N12 tanker crash. (File:  Netcare 911)

Scene of the Alberton N12 tanker crash. (File: Netcare 911)

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Johannesburg - It was in the interests of justice and motorists' safety that truck driver Isaac Maruding, accused of killing three people in a massive pile-up, stay behind bars, the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court heard on Wednesday.

"People who drive recklessly should be kept behind bars," said prosecutor John Ntuli.

Releasing Maruding would send out the wrong message to the public.

Maruding, a married father of two young children, faces three charges of culpable homicide, and another of reckless or negligent driving.

He allegedly lost control of his truck, resulting in a crash involving 48 vehicles stuck in a traffic jam on the N12 East, Alberton, on the morning of 14 October.

Three people were killed in the incident, while seven remained critically injured. Nineteen sustained minor injuries, the court heard. Maruding claimed his brakes failed.

The court heard that in 1996, when employed as a taxi driver, he was tried for culpable homicide and reckless or negligent driving.

He was acquitted of culpable homicide and given an 18-month suspended jail sentence for reckless driving.

Two years later, he was found guilty of culpable homicide in a separate matter. His suspended sentence came into effect and he spent 18 months behind bars. His licence was endorsed for a year.

After his employer's lawyers terminated their services last week, Maruding's family appointed private advocate Mokhele Salemane to argue his case.

Reading from Maruding's affidavit, Salemane told the court his client intended pleading not guilty to all the charges against him.

Plea for bail

Maruding asked for bail, saying he could not support his family from behind bars. He undertook not to meddle in the State's case and said he would hand in his licence and not drive.

Ntuli, however, said whether Maruding's licence should be taken away would only be established during the trial.

He argued that Maruding had no other means of supporting his family but by driving, so there was no guarantee he would not do so.

Warrant Officer Joas Phokungwane, who arrested Maruding a day after the accident, agreed.

He testified that Maruding fled the scene of the accident. Maruding was arrested in Potchefstroom, with the help of his employer, the next day.

Phokungwane said when he asked Maruding why he left the scene, the truck driver said a traffic officer had told him he could.

Phokungwane said he could not find any traffic officer who could attest to this.

Maruding followed proceedings through a Sotho-speaking interpreter who sat close to him, softly relaying what was being said.

Wearing the same blue overalls he wore to court last week, Maruding tried to hide his face from the media. But as proceedings progressed, he turned around to look at his family who sat in the third bench of the gallery.

Magistrate Samuel Hlubi was expected to rule on the bail application on Monday.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime  |  accidents

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