Driver warned, released

2013-01-08 00:00

THE first court appearance of the taxi driver involved in the collision that killed mountain biking ace Burry Stander passed quickly and quietly yesterday.

None of Stander’s family was in the Port Shepstone Magistrate’s Court when Njabulo Nyawose (24) appeared on a charge of culpable homicide.

Nyawose, of nearby Gamalakhe township, was released on warning and the case was postponed to March 22 for further investigation.

Neatly dressed in a red T-shirt, denim jeans and canvas takkies, Nyawose kept his head down before taking the stand.

He covered his face with a brown coat when photographers started to take his picture.

He attempted to cover his face while in the dock, but the court interpreter told him it was forbidden.

State prosecutor Collen Molebatsi said the taxi and Stander’s bicycle had to be sent for forensic testing.

“The vehicle and the bike will have to be tested and the scene will have to be reconstructed.”

Molebatsi said Nyawose was co-operating with police and had made statements.

He had no previous criminal record and it was therefore recommended he be released on warning.

There were no remonstrations from Nyawose’s supporters at the hearing.

Stander (25) died on Thursday evening when he collided with a taxi while on a training ride near Shelly Beach.

In the immediate aftermath of the accident, social media lit up with claims the taxi driver had absconded. However, this was quickly denied by police, who said the driver had been co-operative.

Some commentators insisted it was time for the laws of the roads to be applied more strictly to the taxi industry, which has long been blighted by a perception of lawlessness.

Boy Zondi, deputy chairperson of the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) in KwaZulu-Natal, said the members sympathised with the Stander family.

He reiterated calls for people to remain calm — the same appeal made by Stander’s father Charles — and said it must be left to the courts to make a ruling.

“Once there is criminality, we can’t be seen supporting or toyi-toyiing.”

“The law must take its course,” he said, adding that Santaco would not be taking sides in the matter.

Zondi said the industry was concerned about road fatalities.

“We are not supposed to let people die on our roads, which is why we have been involved with the government and co-operated in setting up roadblocks, doing checks on drivers and vehicles.

“We need to look at road accidents in their entirety, and not just focus on taxis. We should all be concerned and stop pointing fingers,” he said.

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