‘Blue light driver’ jailed for five years

2015-01-28 13:25

A driver of a “blue-light vehicle” that was transporting a state official has been sentenced to five years in prison for running a red light and knocking a young man off his motorbike.

Joseph Motsamai Semitjie was sentenced by the Krugersdorp Magistrates’ Court today for “destroying” teenager Thomas Ferreira’s life.

On the first charge of reckless or negligent driving, Magistrate Abdul Khan sentenced him to four years behind bars. Half this sentence was suspended for four years.

On the other two charges, which relate to his failure to stop at the accident scene and provide help, he was sentenced to three years’ jail.

The sentences would run concurrently.

“You entered a busy intersection without making sure it was safe to do so ... you endangered the lives of others, and a young man’s life was destroyed. As the prosecutor put it, young Ferreira’s life ended that day,” Khan said.

In December 2013, Semitjie was convicted of reckless or negligent driving and failure to help an injured person after he skipped the red light and knocked Ferreira off his motorbike.

Ferreira, who was 18 at the time in November 2011, suffered head injuries and was comatose for weeks. Semitjie was driving then Gauteng housing MEC Humphrey Mmemezi to a meeting.

Khan said the sentence should be a deterrent for other road users who wanted to break the law.

“Society and all road users should understand that traffic offences are not petty offences. They are criminal offences just like murder, robbing and stealing.”

He said Ferreira would need therapy and medication for the rest of his life.

Khan said the court was not convinced that Semitjie was remorseful.

“You blamed everyone else except yourself. You blamed Ferreira, while you failed to ensure safety before entering a busy intersection. You failed to put on the siren and evidently, even as a trained police officer, you did not comply with the Traffic Act.”

Semitjie opted not to testify in his defence.

“Your failure to testify left the court not knowing the true Joseph, leaving your fate to chance,” Khan said.

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