Big swing owners tried for murder

2011-10-21 13:15

Johannesburg - A company and two employees who ran a big swing cable jump are on trial for murder in the Graskop Regional Court after a woman died during a tandem jump with her husband, Beeld reported on Friday.

Doctor Mnisi, Al Martens and the owners of Big Swing in Graskop, Vuka Marketing, were charged with the murder of 29-year-old Jo-Ann Samuels who died when she and her husband, SA National Defence Force Captain Hendrik Samuels, 30, did the jump on October 3 2009.

Beeld reported that a DVD of the jump, filmed by Martens, was shown in court on Thursday.

Screams go from excited to anxious

The DVD starts with Mr Samuels joking about his insurance policy.

"We are on our way to testing my policy," he quipped.

Mrs Samuels' excited screams during the jump could be heard, but the screams became anxious moments before the couple hit a large rock at the bottom of the kloof.

Someone is heard shouting "What the fuck", and the recording stops.

After the DVD was handed in as evidence, regional court Magistrate Andre Lambrecht commented on a noise at the end of the recording.

He wanted to know if the legal team agreed that there was a noise that sounded like a "rope that is slipping".

Defence lawyer Piet Luneburg then asked for an adjournment.

Rope not properly secured

After the adjournment the case was postponed to Friday due to a power failure at the court.
Luneburg said that all jumps, besides the Samuels jump, had been faultless since 2001.

Last year, the Pretoria News reported that police originally investigated a case of culpable homicide but the director of Public Prosecutions referred the investigation to the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court’s occupational health section.

It was found that the incident was not the result of negligence, but the organisers should have foreseen that someone could die.

The rope attached to the platform from which the couple had jumped was allegedly not secured as it should have been, so it was decided to institute criminal prosecutions.

  • Janice - 2011-10-21 13:36

    Come on man, adrenalin junkies know the possibilities of what could happen, it all part of it, so its no use blaming anyone else!!

      Lyndatjie - 2011-10-21 14:16

      Don't they sign endemnity forms? However the point here is that negligence should be accountable... If they were at fault and did not take every precaution to make it a safe jump - then they should be prosecuted. BUT... if it was a simple accident with unforseen problems - then they should go free because adrenalin junkies must put up with the chances they take in life. So lets be fair here - the only way that this will be determined is in a court of law. (Of course NOW I worry about the effectiveness of our courts... but THAT is fodder for another comment).

  • Houtskool - 2011-10-21 13:37

    Bit harsh, but i can understand the way they think. This will hopefully stop these scumbags from operating a unsafe, unchecked and dangerous business. There is no regulatory body so who determines what the best and safest procedures are? Doc Mnisi?

      Cerys - 2011-10-21 13:52

      It is a tad unfair calling them scumbags, this was the first jump in 8 years that did not go as it should have, that does not indicate to me that they were operating "unsafe and unchecked". I can understand that the family feel the need to bring someone to task for what happened, but the fact of the matter is that they were well aware of the dangers involved in such an activity. The Big Swing is well known in Gauteng and I'm sure thousands of people take the swing every year. Very sad for the family, but I think there are cases out there that are far more important that are falling by the wayside in order to prosecute what is clearly a case of accidental death. Feel just as sad for the owners and employees who are probably already wracked with guilt and now having to suffer further. Typical SA justice system fail....

      Houtskool - 2011-10-21 14:29

      true, i was actually reffering to other people in the same industry who runs unsafe activities like this. The people are aware of the risks, i agree, BUT, they take the risk based on the premise that big swing did EVERYTHING they could to ensure that you are safe. They did in fact, slipped up on the most basic of saftre measures, and they must be held acountable for their negligence.

      Hugh - 2011-10-22 13:41

      @cerys, in avaiation we have to sign for every step of an inspection. Miss something or make a mistake you are never employed as an engineer again.Flying is assumed to be safe but it higly dangerous. Why because people lives are at risk. The severity of punishment ensures that there is no room for complacency of errors. So what that they were accident free for nine years. Do you fogive the pilot or engineer for an error in judgement when that error results in the death of your loved one?

  • Toni-Catherine - 2011-10-21 13:48

    They should be accused of Culpable Hosmicide. You do not run a business that has such a high risk of injury without making sure the rope is secure. It was negligence and they should be tried accordingly. If you want to live in hot water, you must feel the heat.

      piet.strydom - 2011-10-21 16:37

      And based on what evdence do you make this judgement?

  • Mike - 2011-10-21 13:54

    They're attempting to convict them on the basis of dolus eventualis, they won't probably succeed and will end up with culpable homicide, what a terrible tragedy!

      Ann - 2011-10-21 14:09

      Agreed. I always thought "murder" refers to "premeditated", which in this case clearly should not be the charge?

  • Pieter - 2011-10-21 14:10

    I also did this jump, lucky to be alive then!! Also did a flip in the yellow Tiger Moth at Rand Airport before it also had a crash!! Eish!!

      Steve - 2011-10-21 14:23

      Are you also the guy that was running around Libya in that Gaddafi costume last week?

      Nicholas - 2011-10-21 14:30

      Please tell me the other daredevil things you did so i know not to go do the same after your Voodoo touch P)??

      SimnikiweNtingi - 2011-10-21 15:33

      Pieter, I've got one more dare devil stunt for you. Hold your breath for 10 minutes.

  • frans.grobler3 - 2011-10-21 14:21

    You can have people sign and put signs up and all this kind of cr*p as owner you are still responsible even if some climbs over your 6ft fence and drowns in your pool. People must get to know the Occupational Health and Safety act (OHSAct). Ignorance of the law is no excuse. If you slip on a wet floor in a supermarket get a lawyer as the supermarket owner/s are responsible and liable.

  • Ingrid - 2011-10-21 14:28

    I hope all parties are investigated, including the husband, there may be more to this than meets the eye.

      Paul - 2011-10-21 14:37

      The rope broke. It was an accident. What are you on about?

      stefanie.botha - 2011-10-21 15:03

      Uhm no Paul, the rope didn't actually break... This is from the article on 04/10/2009... "Michael van der Merwe, owner of the Big Swing, said human error might have been responsible for the accident, but that no one at this stage knew what had happened. Never had an accident He emphasised that safety procedures and systems were working and that the cable “definitely didn’t break”. The gear the couple was wearing also did not tear, break or rip.

      Paul - 2011-10-21 15:39

      Indeed. Apologies to Ingrid then.

  • kirstyjean.woolward - 2011-10-21 15:55

    I find this video offensive and truly insensitive! Was there even a thought to firstly consult the family as to whether or not they wanted their daughters death broadcasted over every online newspaper, seriously this is not right. I am lucky to know this family and I also know this is the first time any of them have seen this. I personally feel that this is not something that should be broadcasted for the whole country to see, it is all about sensation and sales.Hopefully with regards to the media this will all be yesterdays news!! I am highly disgusted in some of the comments ive read today regarding this matter but I suppose it didnt happen to your family and if it did it would make each and every single one of you think and feel differently.

      Marion - 2011-10-21 17:11

      I haven't seen the video and I don't want to. Watching someone die is not my idea of entertainment or even enlightenment. I agree with you that it is in bad taste to release such videos to the public. This was a very tragic accident.

  • Brainbow - 2011-10-21 17:24

    Their job is to make sure the rope is secure. They are the people with the knowledge. They know the risks. They know the ropes. They know the knots and the nots. There must be negligence involved. It can only be human error. In this case we know how long the piece of string is. Logical. May all other operators take note. Pray for the husband. He is close to death.

  • Bill - 2011-10-21 23:17

    Obviously this couple were aware of the risks involved in the jump, but I am sure like thousands of other jumpers before them, they trusted the operators integrity, they however, unlike the others before them, paid the ultimate price for that trust…sad! But by the same token drive recklessly or under the influence and kill someone in an accident and you will also be charged with murder..! A bit harsh, but then maybe these draconian laws need to be put in place to try and curb recklessness actions that results in innocents deaths..!

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