Truck driver to be sentenced next year

By Drum Digital
13 November 2013

The driver whose truck collided with a goods train, killing 24 farm workers in Mpumalanga last July, will be sentenced in February.

George Mandlazi, 33, who has been found guilty on 24 counts of culpable homicide and one of negligent driving, appeared in the Nelspruit Circuit of the High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday for argument in sentencing, a Sapa correspondent reported.

His lawyer Melanie Erasmus asked the court to postpone the case to February to enable her to prepare for sentencing arguments and to collect supporting statements from victims.

On Tuesday, Mandlazi admitted to driving negligently and unintentionally causing the deaths of 24 farmworkers on July 13, 2012, when his truck collided with a goods train going from Emalahleni to Maputo, Mozambique, at a level crossing.

At the time, the truck was ferrying 47 seasonal farm workers between Malelane and Hectorspruit.

Nineteen of them died on the scene. Five died on their way to hospital, and 23 were injured.

The State accepted his plea and withdrew charges of murder and attempted murder.

Judge Nomsa Khumalo postponed the case to February 10. Mandlazi's bail of R3000 was extended.

After the postponement, one of the survivors of the accident, Julius Ndukuya, said he held no grudge against Mandlazi, but wanted justice to be served.

"As I'm sitting in this court, I was waiting for the sentencing and hear what the accused wants to say.

"I don't hate him, but the truth is people died there and I now can't work or walk well.... I get sick all the time, especially when it's cloudy.

"That is why I want justice to be served for all of us, the ones who died and myself and the other people who survived," he said.


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