Imbali bakkie case postponed

2016-07-14 10:57

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Pietermaritzburg - The trial of 32-year-old Lungile Mthimkhulu — arising from the deaths of eight primary schoolchildren in an accident in Imbali last year — had to be postponed on Wednesday while the defence awaits an expert report.

Defence advocate Shane Matthews told the court that it is essential for them to obtain the report, since the defence’s case is based on an allegation that “unforeseen mechanical failure of the braking mechanism” of the bakkie caused the accident, and not negligence by Mthimkhulu.

Regional court prosecutor Ricky van Wyk said the prosecution would also benefit from seeing what the defence expert had to say before the trial commences.

Mthimkhulu pleaded not guilty to eight counts of culpable homicide arising from the deaths of the children at the start of the trial in May this year.

She also pleaded not guilty to alternative counts of reckless and negligent driving, or driving without consideration for other road users.

Mthimkhulu admitted she was the driver of the bakkie when the accident happened on January 28, 2015, and that the children who died were all passengers in the vehicle.

However, she denies that she was reckless or negligent, or that she was in any way responsible for causing the accident.

The regional court was again crowded yesterday with bereaved family members and friends of the children who were killed, as well as Mthimkhulu’s supporters.

Regional Magistrate Bhekizitha Phoswa told the gallery he was aware that a number of people were following the case and that some of them may question why the matter was not proceeding. He explained to them that the delay was necessary as it would benefit both the defence and state to be in possession of the expert report before the trial starts.

The case was adjourned to August 29 and 30, by which time the report should be available, the court was told.

According to media reports at the time of the accident, Mthimkhulu was transporting several Fezokhule Primary School pupils between the ages of seven and 11 when the bakkie she was driving smashed into a house at Imbali.

The children who died were Snakhonke Mchunu (8), Owami Mahlaba (10), Sinenhlanhla Amanda Nkomo (8), Yolanda Akhona Shezi (9), Sinetemba Nonkululeko Chonco (7), Sinenhlanhla Dlamini (7), Olwethu Bandile Vilakazi (9) and Nonzuzo Zuma (11).

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  court  |  accident

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