Officer’s killer gets 12 years

2009-04-09 00:00

THE Pietermaritzburg taxi driver who ran down traffic officer Desmond Hanson, dragged him 31 metres and tried to drive away, was jailed for an effective 12 years by regional magistrate Rose Mogwera yesterday.

Mogwera said driver Lucky Mbonambi, who was originally charged with the murder of Hanson on June 12, 2008, was fortunate that the state accepted his plea of guilty of culpable homicide. Had he been convicted of murder he might have been jailed for life.

An eight-year jail sentence was imposed for the killing of Hanson and an effective four years for 10 traffic violations.

The fact that he was driving without a public driving permit, which taxi drivers are required to possess, and committed at least 10 offences, showed his disdain for the law, Mogwera said.

Senior traffic officer Kevin Timm told the court yesterday that he was with Hanson when they were trapping offending drivers early in the day.

Evidence given during a previous hearing was that Mbonambi ignored traffic signs in Pietermaritz Street and this information was radioed to other traffic officers to stop him further along Pietermaritz Street. However, he ducked into Peter Kerchhoff Street where he ran down Hanson.

Timm said that while he was being dragged, Hanson’s screams could be heard above the revving of the taxi engine. He ended up half in the gutter and half in the street and died soon after.

Mogwera said Mbonambi had killed a diligent officer who had tried to save lives by enforcing traffic laws. She said drivers repeatedly break the law and when brought to court plead that they have to support their families.

Throughout the country people complain about the lawless, reckless and inconsiderate habits of taxi drivers. They think the roads belong to them, are above the law and drive as they please, she said. Their only regard is their own interests. They know very well that disregarding traffic laws is illegal.

Sentences have to reflect the indignation of the community. If the courts do not punish such conduct severely, people would take the law into their own hands, Mogwera said.

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