Hanson: judgment reserved on taxi driver’s sentence

2010-09-08 00:00

TAXI driver Lucky Mbonambi, who knocked down and killed traffic officer Des Hanson in 2008, has appealed to the high court to set aside his effective 12-year prison sentence for culpable homicide and seven other traffic violations.

Judge Graham Lopes and Acting Judge Yvonne Gcaba reserved judgment, but indicated that they hope to hand down their verdict within a week.

The facts accepted by the trial court were that Mbonambi acted negligently when he ran over Hanson, and that his conduct was not deliberate.

Based on that, the judge questioned whether the sentence of eight years’ imprisonment imposed on him for the culpable homicide charge is appropriate.

The judge was also critical of the magistrate for going on a “tirade” against taxi drivers in general during sentencing.

State advocate Ruan Du Preez submitted that what separated the case from other culpable homicides was Mbonambi’s history of brushes with the law, and that Hanson was a traffic officer on duty at the time, in uniform and wearing reflective clothing.

“He was standing in the road in execution of his duty … He was killed while going that extra mile to protect other innocent people on the roads.”

Du Preez said the court should take into account the effect of the case on other law enforcement officers of whom the same is asked.

Arguing for a lower sentence on behalf of Mbonambi, Zina Anastasiou said Mbonambi had shown remorse by pleading guilty at his trial.

She submitted that the cumulative effect of all the sentences imposed on him is excessive and urged the court to order some of the sentences to run concurrently.

It also emerged in argument that the trial magistrate had exceeded her jurisdiction by imposing three years’ imprisonment on Mbonambi for contravening the National Road Traffic Act in respect of which there is a maximum penalty of one year.

At his trial Mbonambi said he was driving along Peter Kerchoff (Chapel) Street when he saw a Mazda twin-cab 4X4 stopped in the right lane. He moved to the left to avoid the vehicle and “all of a sudden” Hanson appeared in front of him. He admitted he drove too fast and could not stop. Hanson was dragged by the taxi after being hit.

Mbonambi was also convicted of failing to stop at two red robots just before he ran over Hanson.

The court heard that the traffic officers were busy with an operation targeting taxi drivers who crossed red robots when the incident happened.



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