Pray you're alive for trial, accused told

2013-02-21 22:31
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Pretoria - An engineer accused of running down five joggers should pray he is still alive when his trial resumes in nine months' time, an unidentified woman warned him on Thursday.

The court had adjourned for the day and the public gallery was emptying when the unidentified woman turned around and shouted the threat at 45-year-old mechanical engineer Sbusiso Langa.

Family members and survivors of the accident in October 2011 were upset when the court postponed Langa's trial until 11 November.

He faces five counts of murder, one of attempted murder and charges of driving while under the influence of alcohol. He has not yet been asked to plead.

Reneilwe Lesenyeho, 31, Isaac Tlale, 37, Moroese Mokoatsi, 35, Given Mills, 30 and Nomvula Dumeko, 35, were killed when an allegedly drunk Langa ploughed into them in his Mercedes-Benz ML500.

A sixth runner, Khanyisa Stengile, survived, but had to undergo an operation on her legs.

On Monday, the trial was postponed so Langa and his legal team could consult with potential defence witnesses. On Thursday, Richard Mkhabela, for Langa, asked for another postponement.

Langa testified that three security guards he wanted to consult were off duty and would be back at work only on Thursday.

The guards were on duty at Blue Valley estate on the day of the accident, and saw Langa enter and leave the estate, which is opposite the accident scene.

According to Langa, one of them left work early that day and passed the accident scene.

The defence also needed time to trace other potential eyewitnesses.

Langa gave a long explanation about the withdrawal of his attorneys from the trial, and denied deliberately trying to delay the trial, or of planning to tailor his version of events.

Emotional

Judge Sulette Potteril postponed the trial to 11 November after calling the State and defence to discuss the issue with her in her chambers.

She said it seemed all parties had really tried to get the matter to court, but that it was just not possible.

Stengile burst into tears when the trial was postponed.

She said she had not expected such a long postponement and wanted the trial to proceed so she and the families of the other victims could carry on with their lives.

Nkotseng Lesenyeho, whose sister was killed in the accident, also burst into tears, and said the postponement meant no-one cared about the family's feelings and that they needed closure.

Given Mills' mother Masudu said they all needed to see the trial go on.

"We understand nothing will bring these people [the victims] back, but we need to see justice done," she said.

She expressed anger because Langa had not apologised to each family. His apology to the media was not enough, she said.

She said Langa appeared to have no remorse, because he was still regularly seen at the same place where he had allegedly been drinking before the accident.

Mills described her daughter as a lovely child who had been full of life and was still missed every day.

- SAPA

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