State questions credibility of witness
Cape Town - The credibility of a criminologist who compiled a pre-sentencing report for taxi driver Jacob Humphreys was brought into question in the Western Cape High Court on Monday.
State prosecutor Susan Galloway confirmed with criminologist Claire Wolff that she completed her qualification with honours in 2011.
Galloway told the court this meant that Wolff had only been practising for a few months.
She also confirmed that this was Wolff's first testimony in court and only the second time she had written a pre-sentencing report. At this point, the packed gallery broke into whispers.
Humphreys sat quietly through the proceedings with his arms folded, often listening with his eyes closed.
He was found guilty of murder and attempted murder.
He was taking children to school on August 25 2010 when he stopped at the Buttskop level crossing in Blackheath, overtook a row of cars, ignored safety signals and proceeded over the tracks.
A train hit the taxi and 10 of the children were killed. Four children were seriously injured.
Wolff said she had compiled a report in mitigation of sentence, but could not reach a definite conclusion as to what may have motivated Humphreys to commit his offences.
She said a conclusion had not been possible as Humphreys had no recollection of the event.
She had instead listed relevant theories and factors that may have influenced Humphreys before he crossed the railway line.
Judge Robert Henney said: "Human nature is not something that can be pinned down easily. Your experience [as a criminologist] is based purely on theory and not practice."
Wolff told the judge she believed Humphreys was remorseful, having expressed the desire to meet with the victims' families.
"He has genuine sorrow for what he has done and is accepting responsibility. He's not just sorry for being caught but also for his actions," she said.
"I do not believe Mr Humphreys is a danger to society."