Bakkie driver in court over five deaths

2014-05-15 00:00

THE driver of the bakkie that fell into a sludge dam on Monday, killing five children, appeared in the Greytown Magistrate’s Court yesterday charged with five counts of culpable homicide.

Phelelani Mchunu (24) entered a court packed with members of the public and the media, keeping his eyes downcast.

Magistrate S.C. Ngcobo read the charge sheet to him and warned him that the charges are serious. He said if Mchunu was found guilty he could be sentenced to a lengthy term in prison.

As the magistrate read the charge sheet, he stood in the accused’s dock with his hands behind his back appearing dispirited.

Mchunu told the court that he would be applying for a legal aid representative.

Prosecutor Lindo Mzila told the court that the state was opposing bail and asked that he be remanded in custody until a formal bail application on May 21.

The Transport and Education MECs will be amongst the mourners at a memorial service for the five children who died in the accident, to be held at the Senzokuhle Combined School’s sport ground in the Nyamvubu area of Mooi River today at 9 am.

The accident occurred as 29 children were travelling to school in the bakkie along the D532 road in the Riet­vlei area, near Elsmore Farm on Monday morning. Mchuni allegedly lost control of the bakkie and plunged into a farm sludge dam, killing Phumlani Shelembe, Nokwazi Phungula, Lindokuhle Mayekiso, Amanda Khanyile and Sindiswa Bhengu. Two of the survivors are still in hospital.

Mchunu’s family, who had gathered at the court yesterday, appeared angry when photographers tried to take his picture and declined to comment when approached by reporters. Mchunu tried to hide his face from the cameras.

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